FINA Slaps Mexico; Nil On Russia; A Muddle On Wetsuits – & Katie Ledecky Not Best (Ha!)

Cornel Marculescu, director of FINA, and the official 2014 calendar for 2014, showing Yuliya Efimova in July, after she tested positive for a banned substance in October 2013

Greedy, vengeful, visionless and unserious when it comes to genuine reform and transparency. Those are just some of the criticisms levelled at FINA today after its latest set of leadership decisions

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The admission that censoring Mexico was all about the money is a rare moment of honesty from FINA. If all they’d done was say ‘upon further review, we have sanctioned the Mexican federation for falsifying entry times into the 2015 World Championships’ then the response would have been maybe it’s a little harsh, but it’s within their right to take that kind of action on an issue of athletic integrity. But this way, it reminds us all of exactly who is running the show and what their goals are.

As far as swimmer of the year goes, at least they didn’t find a way to give the men’s award to Sun Yang.

Craig Lord

The Mexico ‘false’ times was something of a storm in a tea cup, of course, in terms of impact BUT being long in tooth, beachmouse, I have added a line: it is 20 years since Hungary falsified an entire meet for Olympic entries. Now, the head of the federation there, the host of the gala and head of a fed that has the ‘swimmer of the year’ on its card for the past two years even though Katie Ledecky should have won the award, is granted a golden pin


If the pick is reversed, best female is Ledecky and best female performance is Hosszu (200IM WR) then it would have made much more sense.

But FINA leadership is getting more and more senile.


Hosszu’s rankings in 2015
50m 75 12 71
100 10 3 59
200 5 2 96 17 1
400 10 1
800 43
1500 40
What makes her FINA’s best athlete of the year?


What is the way to make tabs with this posting system?

Craig Lord

Whatever the measure they use, politics is at play in every tick box, Yozhik.

Craig Lord

I just use tab, Yozhik … try writing your note out beyond the box and then copy and paste into the field in format. That has worked for me. If that does not work, tell me, I will ask the team that knows.

Craig Lord

Quite… (deliberate senility might be more accurate) and even then Sarah Sjostrom’s 100 fly WR attracted the bigger points tally beyond the 1000 mark for the WR going into the meet, aswimfan


They obviously put more clout on the world cup series, obviously it may be the way to get more world class swimmers competing?

Craig Lord

Maybe Gheko – but it won’t work… that’s not the way to make a meet series significant … neither money nor prizes has achieved that (the entry in quality terms is worse now than it was 20 years ago). The way to go is to speak to your key stakeholders and work out how to change the calendar to fit the sport not the other way round. They need to talk to coaches, swimmers, programs, media, broadcasters, sponsors and others – consider all those views – they need to understand far more than they do about how to feel the sport beyond what is working for them as blazers on the wing.

clive rushton

FINA reminds me a lot of Donald Chump: just when you think it can’t get any worse or anything more bizarre can’t spring up – Boom! There they go. Fooled ya!

Katie Ledecky is the best swimmer on the planet at the moment. Bar none. None. FINA’s decision last weekend was a total shooting themselves in the foot. Previously their meanderings across and through the ‘right thing to do’ didn’t really touch the rank and file of the sport so most people just shook their heads and got on with real swimming. This touches everyone. Mistake. Big mistake. Huge. Every single swimmer, coach and parent, everywhere, at every level is now aware that FINA is out of touch. Why, oh why would you do that?

Tipping point? Let’s hope so.

Nev Smith

Excellent article CL. Unfortunately it seems that the “powers that be” in FINA have not heeded the very principals that they are supposed to uphold & continue to keep their heads in the sand with regards to what is beings said about their governance. Very much “an old boys club”, something I have witnessed over the years from afar. We support you & your colleagues continual efforts to strive for the betterment of of aquatics world wide.


So did all the winners receive any prize money from Fina or just the awards? Bizarre way of judging things, Katie is light years ahead of all the others!


Fina uses a points system to choose the swimmer of the year. In the World Championships, for example, a first place earned 180 points, second=140, and so on down; 130, 100, down to 25 for 12th place. So anyone with two 4th place finishes at WC’s earns more points than a single gold medal winner. More points are awarded for performances in the World cup circuit, world rankings in each event and also world record bonus points. It was evident some months ago that unless Ledecky came up with a few world records in the interim , she would not overtake Hosszu.

Craig Lord

And that problem has been around for several years, Ger – and as far as I’m aware not a single federation has stood up and said ‘hold on (if any fed can tell me otherwise, please shout and I’ll be very happy to set that record straight and take it from there…) – this system is broken – let’s get real’. Back in August last year, I published a letter I submitted to FINA during my time on the press commission raising precisely this point. To date I have never had a reply. They care only for what they care for…

Craig Lord

Thanks Nev, appreciated – as are the efforts of all who have known this and have sought to do something. We’ll keep pointing it all out for as long as required.


Most federations simply don’t care much about FINA swimmer of the year. It only seems relevant if you’re talking about it as part of a bonus given under the rules of a sponsorship contract. And given their picks in recent years, the irrelevancy continues.

The fundamental problem with the World Cup is that it’s pay to host and so many of the big stakeholders simply don’t want to or aren’t in a position to write that check back to the mothership. Drop the FINA fees, and you could make a true World Cup into a Diamond League equivalent by getting meetings like the Queensland State Championships, Seven Hills, Mare Nostrum parts 1-3, Santa Clara, and Charlotte to sign on.

As it is now, there is zero incentive for an event like the Texas Grand Prix to sign up to be an official World Cup meet when they can draw a far better field than an ‘official’ World Cup meet without paying FINA, what’s the going rate? $75K? for the WC designation.

Craig Lord

Quite, beachmouse – the FINA fee keeps the budgets for these events way higher than they need be. A single WC event may not cost that last figure at every event beach mouse but contracts are only available to those who sign up for a run of years, I understand… so, yes, a big commitment – and one that does NOT come with any guarantee of world-class pointy end quality beyond the podium plus 1 at most.
Feds don’t care … mmm – unless its their swimmer, of course – then pride overrides good sense and instead of criticising a bad system you have big feds putting out sickly sweet press releases that suggest the whole thing matters – when actually the world would only care about this if they had trust in and goodwill to show towards FINA … such things have long been eroded away by the rainmakers – a great shame for the athletes.


Beachmouse, I know that nobody cares who is chosen the best athlete of the year by our homeowners association. But FINA’s decision is different. FINA’s top body was entrusted the position to govern the international sport of swimming and is expected to be the most knowledgeable expert and the most recognizable judge of qualities and values of this sport. Everybody at this Gala Dinner felt the awkwardness of the situation and nevertheless it didn’t stop FINA officials to come up with their criteria of what should be called the best in swimming, come up with the opinion that has nothing in common with the opinion of all professionals, amateurs, fans and lovers of this sport. It is not something that can be simply ignored. Ledecky’s status is so impressive that she doesn’t need FINA’s recognition, but FINA’s decision is very harmful because it kills the belief that this sport can be governed fairly, but not by the money and politically corrupted influences.


I cannot blame Hosszu for using any loopholes to earn money. The creation of such wrongful opportunities is entirely the fault of those who run this business. However it should be some limits dictated by swimmer’s professional courtesy as well. How should we look at Hosszu’s recent medals at FFN Golden Tour (Nice) where she won at 1500 clocking lighting fast time of 17 minutes or winning 800 with 8:40 time? Don’t tell me that that is the part of her preparation for the Olympic glory in Rio. If it is paid will she compete at high school meets or in Master tournaments? The answer is not obvious to me now. Should I were Katinka Hosszu I will not accept this Best Athlete of the Year FINA’s award. It will clear many questions surrounding her name, increase her popularity and publicity and as the consequence bring her much more money than this bonus.

Oliver Kramer

FINA as ridiculous as always. Katie Ledecky not swimmer of the year and open water competitions with wetsuits. Do they want swimmers oder wimps to compete?

Sorry, i cannot take FINA seriously.

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