World Coaches Back Call For Probe Into Russia & FINA’s Handling Of Doping Issues

The Burning Deck - with its burning issues - by Patrick B. Kraemer

The Boards of the World Swimming Coaches (WSCA), the American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA), the British Swimming Coaches Association (BSCA) and the Canadian Swimming Coaches and Teachers Association (CSCTA) have led calls for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to extend its doping probe into Russian Swimming, its relationship with FINA, the international swimming federation, and FINA’s handling of anti-doping matters. Germany head coach Henning Lambertz says that if tests have been hidden, Russia should pay the price by being kept out of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

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What a surprise..

Yana Martynova actually trained in Trojan SWim Club

Maybe world coaches should also back a probe into Trojan Swim Club?

Craig Lord

I think a part of that probe is over and done with, aswimfan: it was the very reason coaches pressed for and won a victory on the new rule that is now in place and now prevents Efimova (and others) from training at Trojan. There’s a price to pay for naivety that stretches credulity – the new rule has done swimming – and Dave Salo – a favour, whether he likes it or not. Time to have the rule extended to world waters – if FINA is serious about zero-tolerance, lots of ways it can show us…


Nice statement and nothing that I will disagree with however, as it stands, it can (and will) be pushed aside as an Anglosphere pressure group.

Strategically speaking, they need to widen their “coverage” and whilst other major European nations WILL be helpful; it would be best to have a major non-Anglosphere or European nation on-board to combat that line of attack. JAP would probably be the best target.

Whilst this may sound political, the reality is that political savvy will be imperative in both forming any kind of reform alliance/grouping and/or forming any kind of viable new entity rather than just talking shops.

clive rushton

Well that’s some (a lot) of the coaches on board but it also needs support from other leading nations – Australia in particular. Japan, New Zealand, and the big European strengths.

Of course, there are two other groups who are visibly absent from the rallying cry: technical officials and swimmers.

The Techies are either oblivious or are part of the Blazerati problem of course. Which leaves the swimmers.

What would it take? 10 of the leading lights to say, “STOP! Something needs to change.”

The big problem is they must mean it. It’s a bit like threatening an errant computer: you have to mean it when you scream imminent destruction otherwise it just ignores you and continues with its infuriating behavior.

Pressure from coaching associations will be a minor pin-prick in the conscience of FINA, what is needed is a ball-peen hammer.

Coaches are not in a position, either morally or practically, to stop a competition but swimmers are.

Craig Lord

clive, you are correct. but very hard for that to happen with athletes when federations have issued specific instructions to swimmers NOT to comment on the matter … AUS, GBR to my knowledge and you can bet others have done that too… there is no such thing as freedom of speech without consequence in swimming at this point in time. Some of that is there for good reason – to not let such things destroy ‘team’ and so on by ‘only speaking to your own performance and nothing else’. There’s a price to pay for that approach – but while it remains, all the more important for leaders such as coaches and officials to step up and speak on behalf of those clean athletes in the most cutting, meaningful and determined manner possible at every passing opportunity. FINA and folk must feel the pressure and know the threat of their removal is serious.


Clive, when we are speaking about FINA, it’s conscience etc. what exactly do we mean? FINA is the association of National Federations. Does it regulate and governs business within Federations? Is it about INTERnational affairs only? Is it about professional swimming only? What we are not satisfied with? With the current bureaucratic form that has to be replaced with another one that will function more efficiently but still will be nations based. Or for professional swimmers we have to forget about any international associations and run the business using PGA or ATP approach. I really get confused. I see a lot of politics and hear a lot of big words and that makes me even more confused – I don’t trust politics with big words.
You are right, at the end it is all about swimmers. Without them there would be nobody to govern or to teach or to watch or to make profit of.
But look at this group more carefully. It is either children that are legally under parents control. They have neither desire nor rights nor ability to play any political role.
It could be mature swimmers who have very limited time left with their swimming career. They are making the choice not to learn any other professional skills but to spend most of their time in training and competitions trying to make substantial earning to protect after sport life. They just don’t have time for any political involvement that can have costly consequences.
And finally we have the third group of swimmers who are close to retirement. If they plan to stay with sport they are mostly thinking about finding the niche within existing sport related administrative or training or commercial systems and are not trying to revolutionised them.
Swimmers are the group with short time membership. Constantly changing. It is not monolithic. It depends a great deal on administrative, technical and other type of services. It cannot be considered a political force.

Craig Lord

No, Yozhik, not a political force, quite right and you raise sound points. There is, however scope for former athletes recently retired to form an association and be representative of their peers. (Libby Trickett, Karen Pickering, Stephan Caron and closing down on the end of their elite racing days George Bovell, Arkady Vyatchanin, all examples among many of people who have a lot to contribute but no mechanism beyond speaking out as individuals from time to time exists to bring their strengths together). All things start somewhere – athletes will feel more empowered when they realise they can make a difference. National federations have worked in a way that has long told athletes: you have no say, swim and shut up. That must and will change, I believe… and all the more quickly if FINA is either replaced or better still those running the show for far too long are asked to leave as part of a wholesale review of the structures and organisation of the governance of world sport. No system will be perfect and deliver paradise but there is no question whatsoever that the current system is serving those running it more than any other sector in swimming; no question that there is vast scope to review, revise, restructure, revamp and revitalise the sport to make it a place that serves athletes rather than have them kept in deliberate servitude. One man has been far too powerful for far too long. He should go – and honorary positions for service should end. People should serve, enjoy constructive time in the sport – and then move on. There are no honorary positions for great athletes, no mechanisms for keeping “the stars” in the show at all. Why on earth should there be hon positions for life for people who have been paid vast sums of money to ‘volunteer’ (none of those at Bureau level are volunteers – they are highly paid gravy trainers and free-loaders who do very little for their luxury lifestyles, regardless of whether some of them have indeed made worthy input along the way – and don’t want that status quo to change – they feel royal – for life and above the influences and rules that apply generally). There are absolutely no checks and balances in the system: you nod to Cornel Marculescu and vote the way he wants you too and by and large, you have a place in the club for life. Speak out against him, disagree and you are persona non grata. That is hugely damaging to swimming.


@CL. I actually asked Clive Rushton what he and many of us mean when using expression like ‘consciance of FINA’. It is an association of National Federations. That is what makes the confusion – collective conscience. You brought some clarification – that is those “who run the show”. So if to replace those who doesn’t have conscience by those who do have it then everything will be fine? Or the entire bureaucratic structure from international governing body to the clerk in some federation has no provision for such self improvement process to happen?

Craig Lord

Yozhik, I believe that there are certain structures within FINA that would work well (have worked well and do work well) if the rules and constitution were followed by the leadership currently abusing their positions and power to their own ends and a determination to maintain that status quo that serves them first and foremost, not athletes and the sport in general. The basic foundations of FINA are not rotten; the leadership has lost its way and, I would say, doesn’t know how to find it. An independent review and restructure is urgently overdue, as is a clear out of many of those who have been in their positions at the helm of the international federation for far too long and hanging on to old models that have little to do with transparent, modern, professional governance and leadership in the interests of swimmers and swimming. The guilt of domestic federations is allowing the leadership to continue to behave as they are without challenging it in serious fashion as they could if they really cared about the issues at play, starting with USA Swimming and what I regard as an abdication of duty that is not serving swimming well (USA not alone, that applies to some degree to all main federations that absolutely ought now to be pressing for radical change in the structures of FINA).

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