‘We All Deserve Better’ Than FINA, World Coaches Told As Swim Schism Spills

A schism has developed between FINA bosses and many of the leading swimming coaches in the world after a frought exchange of emails ended with the FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu refusing to communicate further on specific subjects – doping and finding hosts for events – with the man holding the equivalent position at the American Swimming Coaches Association, John Leonard

All SwimVortex articles are placed in our archive after five days, the library of content available to subscribers.
Log In Register

A schism has developed between FINA bosses and many of the leading swimming coaches in the world after a frought exchange of emails ended with the FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu refusing to communicate further on specific subjects – doping and finding hosts for events – with the man holding the equivalent position at the American Swimming Coaches Association, John Leonard

Comments

Jim C

Is John Leonard no longer the most hated man in swimming?

Larry Laursen

Craig,

Thanks for helping spread the word of this concern to the world. I am and have been a WSCA Board member since 2004 and am operating in Africa. A continent where many properly elected officials (government and sports… at all levels) maintain their power despite many onslaughts from the press and courageous individuals like John Leonard, and those coaches who have publicly come out in support of his initiatives. Which (and whom) I wholeheartedly support.

Over my 40+ years in Sport and Education, I have personally seen very many similar parallels of top officials/bosses/directors , remaining in power (well past their expiry date) with embedded-power maintenance strategies and support within/through World Sport Authorities like FIFA, IAAF and IOC.

These entrenched individuals like Putin, Blatter and Marculescu will always use a scapegoat that is well-paid and willing to take the “flack’…to the point of being fired. they maintain the power and stay out of the limelight, but still manipulate the strings that control the chosen “scapegoat”.

When I see replies like Marculescu’s, I know he is retreating and standing on his reserve back-foot without back-up from his Bureau, who wish to remain out of the lime-light. He is going to become the Bureau scapegoat.

The FINA Bureau is forcing Marculescu into a Dictator position. Such “dictators” have a great amount of endurance in defending their positions. They talk to each other and use each other’s strategies for maintaining their positions. But they also know that when their times come to resign or retire, they will be very well rewarded…despite their numbered days. By his responses I think Marculescu has seen the writing on his wall, and has already negotiated his exit package and strategy.

So the real dictators are not the “Scapegoat” Marculescu, but the remaining FINA Bureau members..or a small conclave of them.They should be the real target in any attempt to evolve a change for the benefit of all aquatic competitors and coaches who “play fair”.

Historically Dictators have only been removed through three steps : 1. by large scale social commentary ; then 2. large scale popular community reaction and finally 3. by action from those who stay committed.
These are long term battles. Some peaceful and some violent. I point to the Arab Spring as an example. large issues only changed once the full population became involved.

Those who commit to the “task of initiating change” have to understand that it is a loooong battle from the first stroke to the final stroke. But you can not sell that to the masses without a solid platform for the changes that would improve the system

This issue with FINA is now at the first stage. That of social commentary. It is the most crucial stage. Because FINA will challenge whether “John Leonard’s” commentary and “call to arms” is strong enough to react to.
FINA and Marculescu will not react to letters from coaches. no matter how many respond. Coaching numbers are too few to make that difference. FINA will react to some initial signs that Federations are courageous enough to forfeit their FINA financial contributions to attend international competitions free of charge. But that will not happen. Because most of the World’s swimming federations are volunteer associations composed of parents whose swimmers are on the cusp of joining National teams…joining the FINA Gravy Team.

This use of Voluntary Organizations within Swimming federations is FINA’s Strength and Strategy. They will use that strength in combating any “surge” for change.

I doubt that this quest for change will succeed unless that initial step involves the social media of the current “have-nots” in the world of swimming. In the short term that includes the base of parents and swimmers in each Federation around the world who are not yet involved in international competitive realms…to join in the action to implant the basics of “Fair Sport” . I am old. I am “social media dumb” I do not know how to do this. WSCA needs help en-mass from younger coaches that are adept at Social Media to send us your suggestions.

WSCA sends its message to thousands of coaches around the world each day. That database needs to expand to go out to tens-of-thousands of parents registered with their Federations. It needs to include news and helpful hints for parents. Open, Honest, Simple, Fair-sport oriented helpful short paragraphs. It does not just have to be WSCA. It should/could be done by all Continental or National Swimming Coaching Organizations. It needs to be vigorous and user friendly. It needs to hit home to the audience that we need. In essence, if we need to invoke changes in FINA, we need a much bigger base of support than ASCA and WSCA have now

I know that FINA has nothing like this on board… yet. But this email is not hidden from their eyes. They will form a similar strategy to get to the larger swimming community base.

Comments are very welcome.

Larry Laursen

Clive Rushton

Great move John and George.

Craig Lord

Larry, some very good points and interesting observations – and yes, the Bureau has abdicated its duty to the director for very many years – and in that scenario there has been a great deal of work on the director’s part – some of which has taken swimming down the wrong road (be that shiny suits, Putin etc… plenty of examples) … on your last point; they don’t need to form a similar strategy for they already have one that works – a few on the train from each country willing to keep quiet and hold on to heir positions, plus swimmers (and some coaches) who will vote for the wold cup prize money and such things every time. As one colleague of mine once said “i realise Craig that in your country being on the fina press commission doesn’t mean a thing, but in my country it makes you ‘important’.”
Ultimately, if change is not forthcoming from within, there are two outcomes: status quo and swimming remains in the same place with the same people or change forced from beyond its power base by the creation of another. Swimming, a sport in which it can often be said that the wider membership is not politically active beyond seeking position (sadly, it is rare to see genuine challenge to current structures and those who continue to hold positions in international organisations) is at a watershed.

Clive Rushton

Larry Lauraen: “So the real dictators are not the “Scapegoat” Marculescu, but the remaining FINA Bureau members..or a small conclave of them.They should be the real target in any attempt to evolve a change for the benefit of all aquatic competitors and coaches who “play fair”.”

Indeed. Name names. I personally know a fair number of Bureau members or Athlete, Coach, or Sports Science Committee members, but the number of which I have no knowledge whatsoever is scary. I have, after all been involved in the sport at an international level for over 50 years. Maybe I’m just in attentive in my observations.

If you are personally aware of a Bureau or Committee member, why not ask them why they approved shiny suits, Putin’s award, a 10k World Cup event to UAE, or the non-award of world swimmer of the year to Katie Ledecky? There are, of course, a whole grab-bag of further examples I could cite but I am sure you can select your own.

Craig Lord

In many cases, Clive, they approved nothing… Putin, for e.g., came down to 2 men… the rest simply abdicated their duty of care and duty under the rules …

Lawrie Cox

Clive your question would be entirely relevant if those holding office actually were prepared to stand up for the sport. Unfortunately most are there for the ride and stay silent as it would ‘rock the boat’ and we can’t have that.

Fedupwithfina

Discontent with FINA is only now really starting to become a reported matter. Vitriol for the way the federation has conducted its business has been evident for a long time to those who have major dealings or involvement. The Sun Yang case is merely the catalyst for this.

FINA has for a very long time been run by a demographic of people who are outdated, and out of touch wih the way their sport is and what it requires to move forward. They exist in a different, blazer-wearing world to the rest of us. Milking, manipulating and dictating at every juncture, and becoming anonymous when a truly strong and morally astute IF would, and should, stand up to be counted.

Marculescu is the instigator, not the person who should be held accountable to FINA elected officials. He continually rides rough-shot over everyone and everything that comes into his world and does so with little regard for anything.

And the world thinks that FIFA has problems. They should take a closer look at the way FINA, and in particular, Marculescu conducts his business. [it would not be surprising if anyone unveils in FINA World…] discrimation, xenophobia, money-laundering, siphening and manipulation, nepotism and corruption

beachmouse

USAS really does have a lot of soft power in the sport. Remember they were the chief brokers of the shine suit ban that was approved like 180-10. They’re generally seen as an honest federation and are responsible for making a lot of other swim federations look good to their national sports federations and Olympic committees by providing both long term developmental (ie. NCAA) and short term training bases. A typical ‘domestic’ USAS Grand Prix meet can draw a better international presence than a lot of World Cup stops.

And I can understand USAS not wanting to throw their weight around for trivial things or antagonize FINA unnecessarily, but the time has come for Weilgus and friends to have a little more interest in the best interests of the sport globally instead of being so extremely domestically focused.

Craig Lord

FedupwithFINA, I and several colleagues can recall repairing on such issues at many points between the late 1980s and today, on a variety of topics… and you’re right when you say many of he folk involved have been there all the while. Time for change (culturally within or by overhaul) is long overdue. I made a slight edit to your comment for legal reasons.

beachmouse

I’ve got Sky News on in the background, and they just described Qatar 2022 as ‘the most controversial global sporting event in history’. Methinks they need to follow certain other Olympic sports a little more.

Leave a comment

Post a comment with your SwimVortex Account. Don't have a SwimVortex Account, Sign Up?

(*) Fields are required!
×