FINA Bosses Handed Ultimatum: Respond To Review Call By End-March Or Face War

On Golden Thrones: FINA Executive Director Cornel Marculescu exchanges views with the then only woman on the FINA Bureau, Margo Mountjoy in Doha, 2014 - by Patrick B. Kraemer

FINA’s top table Bureau and its executive director Cornel Marculescu have been handed an ultimatum by the boards of the World and American swimming coaches associations: respond to a call for independent review or face open hostility towards the international federation throughout the coming summer of World Championships and all the way to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

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FINA’s top table Bureau and its executive director Cornel Marculescu have been handed an ultimatum by the boards of the World and American swimming coaches associations: respond to a call for independent review or face open hostility towards the international federation throughout the coming summer of World Championships and all the way to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.



Mr. Lord, Thank you for your reporting on FINA! is the place to go to learn about efforts to keep the sport of competitive swimming fair and its governing body accountable for the decisions it makes!

Craig Lord

Thanks Danjohnrob. They need holding to account now more than ever, the money being that much greater …

MIke Higgs

Carry on the great reporting Craig. I, like others, know that swimming ,our great sport. needs leadership free of corruption and greed.
thanks once again



So, it looks like FINA Is going to opt for all out warfare. It will be interesting to see if Cornel backs down in the face of pressure from the IOC, if this issue has been brought to their attention.

It speaks volumes that the open letter was addressed to the Executive Director and not the President. Perhaps John should have copied in every member of the Bureau. I suspect some of them won’t event be aware of the wave of animosity toward their IF.

Craig Lord

I understand that all Bureau members will receive or have already received the letter, Fedup. Your last point – I think you may well be right.


Finally !! The only real solution for our sport is a new organisation headed by swimmers and coaches to govern our sport !! lets get rid of these career sport politicians once and for all !! they did way too many damage already to gve them a second chance (or is it the third, fourth or fifth, sixth ??? already I lost count).

Lawrie Cox

Just a caution to the thoughts of Belgium_Kangoo agree a new organisation is what is likely to be the outcome in this as it appears that the Bureau are unlikely to respond positively. The sport is not made up of one group being stronger than the other or being exclusive to one or two either. Remember that good governance comes from diversity. This can mean inputs from Swimmers, Coaches, Officials, Parents and other skill sets.
At present the view that swimmers are excluded has doubt due to athletes commission plus a number on the bureau already and are they performing (i will leave that to others in the future to determine) Coaches have been excluded on the argument that they are paid employees and as such should not be allowed to govern their own conditions.
It is a nonsense to suggest that we do not need involvement from swimmers and coaches as an important part of the sport. I argue coaches have a far longer time span of involvement than swimmers do but it is important they get a say in the governance. Equally like me a parent who got involved and then in the administration as well as the officiating is and should be part of the process. To make an organisation strong having some added skills from outside also assists for a strong body.
We are all part of this and we are all part of the solution.
I look forward to the positive changes ahead.


Good stuff Craig. The problem will be that if the IOC backs FINA, the swimmers will be faced with falling into line or missing the Olympics. I’m afraid that commercial and competitive realities might mean that that’s a battle the Mr Leonard can not win.

Craig Lord

That issue is well understood, Stirlo, but I don’t believe that is a battle that ‘cannot’ be won. Many said that about shiny suits. They were sunk. I see circumstances that would make it all very possible in more ways than one. FINA, right now, is an illusion: yes, they have a great deal of money but their sponsor base is largely what it has long been – apart from a Russian bank here and a Chinese ‘who knows who they are’ there (both for events that attract a small global audience, speaking relatively or otherwise). Imagine if the world’s top 30 had consent access to a circuit of serious money … there are sponsors waiting for that to happen, players who have felt unable to deal with FINA and unwilling to play a par in the sport because of the way business is done…
None of what is to come will be without pain – and the option of ‘status quo’ is one that will leave swimming in the backwaters of spot with some of the other fina stablemates in the years ahead.

Craig Lord

Yes, spot on, ‘all part of the solution’. That is what is intended – as I believe will become clearer as time goes by…


Why would an organization as remote and unrepresentative of its major stakeholders as FINA deign to respond when the WSCA is acting in isolation? But if USA Swimming and Swimming Australia threw their lot behind the WSCA everything would change.

Craig Lord

longstroke – you are absolutely right on federations domestic – though WSCA is not working in isolation – It just seems that way for now… An offer has been made, a deadline set, those at the top table of FINA would be wise to heed it …

Clive Rushton

Coaches of the world unite. Gird your loins for the battle ahead. It will not be an easy path; it will not be a fast path; but it will undoubtedly be a worthwhile path.

Imagine if swimming had the best international federation of any sport. Just imagine.

Craig Lord

Quite so, Clive


Looking at the other side, one might be careful what they ask for.

Imagine the scenario – FINA (whether working with IOC or not) agrees to WSCA terms, but on conditions – all 200m events dropped, 400free dropped and 4 x 200m relay dropped…..

Or think of your own worst case scenario, one that gets enough support for WSCA, et al to go into affect.

Craig Lord

That’s not going to happen AussieBob. I think when you have the kind of bad and ugly governance of the kind FINA has treated its membership to of late, the time for ‘careful what you wish for’ is done. The independent review would be just that: FINA would not get to set terms of engagement -it either agrees to much-needed transparency or not. There is no negotiation… and if swimming goes alone, it would be out of fina’s hands to negotiate swimming events away in favour of far less popular things under the new way the IOC is counting them in and out… And the new world would not be WSCA – that falls well shy of what is envisioned.


Feel we’re on cusp of living through one of sporting history’s great turning points. Either that, or crushing disappointment…

Q: Assuming a successful breakaway, would the new body face any issue re: “carrying over” past performances for its own All-Time lists (i.e. everything ever performed in FINA-sanctioned events/pools)?


Craig Lord

Hi JMott76 – No to that last question… wouldn’t be an issue: we alone have a more comprehensive record of the past 40 years and more of performances than FINA has access to. I would imagine that one of the tasks of any new body would be to create a comprehensive record of the past and present it in a way that FINA has been neither willing nor able to do.

Steve Levy

Craig, why is FINA incorporated and headquartered in Switzerland as per Article 60ff of the swiss civil code? Is it simply to be near the IOC? Would a “new FINA” be located in Switzerland – or some other country?

Either way, it might be worthwhile for FINA leader to read the IOC charter, particularly the Mission of the IOC (p.16)

“to encourage and support the promotion of ethics and good governance in sport”

“to oppose any political or commercial abuse of sport and athletes” (something about the increased UAE purse rings here)

From what I understand Art. 60ff means that FINA is a not-for-profit; as such, I’m certain that their are legal ramifications for things such as “abuse of power” and/or funds.


Craig: Thanks for replying, and good luck in the difficult months ahead.


Good points across the board Craig. Longstroke’s point on national associations is key I would think. If the top 5-10 federations break from FINA, FINA is dead.

Craig Lord

I agree with that Stirlo – take away 5 key federations and their top swimmers and you have a world cup of a few standouts and a much slower day… Of course, many of those who lead federations are among the handful from each nation who are gaining on a personal level from being a part of FINA…

Craig Lord

Steve… will reply in due course on an interesting point …

So Cal Swimmer

Exactly what are the demands being made to FINA? In the end, what is it that the swim community expects for the athletes? Just curious.

Craig Lord

The demands to FINA ar very clear, So Cal Swimmer: an independent review of its books and management structures (Bill Sweetenham’s letter is quite clear on that) – how does it conduct its business, is it sticking to the rules it set for itself and others – and where are the very vast sums of money flowing into FINA ending up, the organisation being a non-profit in law. Some answers are already out there, with more to come, regardless of any review. The specifics of an alternative way of doing things will be making their way to the world in the very near future.

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