FINA Must ‘Agree To Demands By April 15’ Or Face Mutiny & Replacement As Intl Swim Fed

Cornel Marculescu, director of FINA [Photo by Patrick B, Kraemer]

FINA has today been granted extra time in which to respond to a demand to submit to independent review or face an open challenge to its authority through the creation of a new world governing body for swimming only driven by coaches and swimmers with the help of leading marketers, merchandisers and sponsors keen to break away from the Lausanne-based outfit if it refuses to engage with its membership

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FINA has today been granted extra time in which to respond to a demand to submit to independent review or face an open challenge to its authority through the creation of a new world governing body for swimming only driven by coaches and swimmers with the help of leading marketers, merchandisers and sponsors keen to break away from the Lausanne-based outfit if it refuses to engage with its membership


Bill Bell

FINA to the WSCA:

Drop dead!


Why give them more time?

Allowing them to agree to, what will no doubt be a false promise and lead the sport further down the pecking order of International interest!!

Just progress with the revolt, generate interest and build momentum…

You can’t turn a sunken ship!

Gregg Troy

It needs to be done


@*CoachyCoacherson*, +1

By giving FINA more time, it just shows to them that Sweetenham’s letter and request is toothless and they can continue to come up with other excuses to delay/postpone things.


The full disclosure of salaries, allowances, expense accounts etc. should not be controversial. There is also the issue of financial transparency in general. I would be interested to know the following:

– are financial statements covering FINA’s entire operations periodically issued to member federations?

– do FINA bureau members have full access to financial information?

– are budgets regularly produced and distributed to member federations and the FINA bureau and commentary and explanations provided when it is time to compare actual results against budget targets?

If the answers to the above are “no” then the governance of the sport of swimming is even worse than I thought.

David Berkoff

This past summer, I introduced proposed legislation at USAS requiring our appointed FINA and USOC representatives to disclose gifts or payments more tha $500 as part of an effort to promote transparency. Not surprisingly those on the Board who might have something to hide opposed the proposed legislation.

Craig Lord

lomgstroke, the answers are twofold: “yes, but …” top No 1, for e.g…. and ‘no’ to the last two, going on what I’ve long been told and seen.

Craig Lord

Thanks David. There is the money per diem stuff, which during a world championships can stretch to $5k and more but true expenses dod not come out of that money in many case. That’s the ‘cheat’. When the IOC says some get $900 a day from allowances and expenses, what they need to say is whether that daily rate includes flight, hotel, meals and medical insurance is not part of that money. IN my experience through FINA, whatever the figures may be ($100 a day for minor folk and much more for others), all major expenses as decried above are above and beyond that. So, a flight will be booked and the person compensated for the whole amount, without the ‘expenses’ being touched. That is not normal practice. In effect, they are earning a wage but not saying its a wage. Then there are occasions where the gifts are worth a fair bit of money, too: a laptop for all Bureau members on one occasion, for example. And then there is the wardrobed: I would estimate that at every passing event, the shirts, the trousers, the full suits, of the lapel kind, even shoes, bags, hats etc, must exceed $500 per person at retail prices. That’s an awful lot of people and an awful lot of money. I’m not talking about those who must and should get the official hit to serve as officials on deck etc and look the part, I’m talking about committee and bureau members who never have a public role to play. I once asked ‘why a suit for everyone’. Reply: for the team photo … we’re a family. I don’t know many families in the world who buy a new wardrobe every time they want to take a family photo … and that ‘family’ is of course, the entire membership of swimming, which is never let into the secret of what the bill to keep the current circus rolling truly is. I’m not talking about a VIP event here and there – par for the course. I’m talking about ways in which FINA could be better spending budgets of its own and budgets it insists its hosts fork out for unnecessary things/comforts/trinkets/ties/watches etc. Some of it sounds trivial but handing out ties and watches and much more to the same people – many hundreds of people – et every passing event is a pure waste of money. The culture and practice are poor and feed into the downside of universality. It doesn’t take serious corruption and large sums of money to persuade people to vote your way: the mere fact that you’ve allowed them to be there at all, to have flown, to have stayed in comfort, to have travelled the world, to have received a new wardrobe, to have received a bag of goodies etc… such things are enough to keep people from speaking out against a system working fairly well for them, even if not for the wider membership, including the bulk of FINA nations that have absolutely no world-class swim program to speak about.

Craig Lord

Aussiebob – it does nothing of the kind. It is simply there to allow those in FINA who think this should happen to tell those who can say it should happen ‘please make this happen’. Beyond that, time runs out. I think it a good thing that coaches and athletes and others have been entirely reasonable in their approach. Sweetenham’s letters have been measured and no-one could possible say that this is simply angry coaches on the run… these thoughts are well considered and the offer to talk and review is very genuine. Few would wish to see FINA, as an entity, sunk, nor would most wish to see many of the good things that have developed down the FINA years lost. If there is no response, FINA ‘leaders’ will never now be able to say to anyone, IOC included, that they tried to engage with their membership: so far there has been no engagement because they simply do not want to face this. You are entirely wrong that it is toothless, given what I know lies behind it. And if they think it is toothless, they have a wake-up call ahead of them.


Thanks for clearing it up somewhat, Craig.

I’m surprised FINA’s membership tolerates less than full disclosure, particularly leading federations such as USA Swimming and Swimming Australia. If shareholders of a public company did not insist on audited financial statements, proper budget processes, commentary and explanations from management on financial results etc. they would be considered to be lazy, timid or stupid. In my opinion the national federations are primarily responsible for most of the governance failings we see.

If it’s true, it would also be shocking that FINA bureau members do not have full access to information and therefore have no way of holding the powerbrokers accountable. No self-respecting board member of a public company would accept such a limitation to their role. How are FINA bureau members selected? Are they selected purely because they are compliant? What do they actually do? Are they in it simply for the prestige and the perks?


Is this the same David Berkoff who held the 100 BK world record and won Olympic gold and silver in the event in 1988 and 1992?

We need to see more current and former swimmers stand up and demand higher standards.


Correction: I think David Berkoff won silver and bronze.


Hi Craig,

*If* FINA agree to split out Elite swimming as a separate entity (if I’m reading that correctly), does this mean that each current sub-sport will have it’s own entity? Diving, Synchro, Masters, etc., or is the proposal to keep them together?

Obviously this is not a concern for Elite Swimming, however the other sports could end up in financial difficulties if they are not supported by swimming.

I think the concept for Elite swimming is a positive step forward to continue to professionalise the sport, and create a better environment for the athletes.

As an aside, as a masters swimmer, I think it would be good for Masters swimming to be run separately as well, as this sport has got more popular in recent years and needs more focus and management regarding World Masters events, doping control, rankings, etc. As there is no control over the entries at these events, they can massively overrun into the early hours of the morning, showing no respect to the athletes or volunteers. Equally, because of the massive entry, there are very few countries that want to (or are able to) host these events as they don’t two 50m pools plus warm up facilities in the same vicinity. Perhaps this is a discussion for your masters page as well!

Great work Craig as always – John

Craig Lord

Thanks John. I would love you or some in masters to write about that experience you mention and suggest ways that masters could be better organised come those big global occasions… I fear that Kazan will be a bit of a nightmare on numbers if all those who would wish to go do actually end up going. If you or anyone is up to penning a piece at some stage for our masters section, that would be great.


Hi Craig,

I’ll find some time to do that based on my personal experiences of Gothenburg and Riccione, and I’m sure others will add some comments on Montreal or other events. I’m not going to Kazan as I don’t feel comfortable supporting the event (personal opinion) but agree it could be a logistical nightmare as well.


Why don’t they publish the details on a transparency portal for example

Craig Lord

I believe, neo, they’ll ultimately have no choice but to do that or something very similar… time ticks…

Karen Reeder

I think WSCA needs a plan for down the road on this. My guess is FINA will do nothing. It will be difficult to have a rival organization to FINA. We had one in open water, the International Marathon Swimming Association, (IMSA) and when FINA decided to take it over, things got nasty. FINA got a a federation (Argentina) to refuse sanction to an IMSA event, then swimmers swam in that event and FINA banned us. If you look at the FINA rule book they can ban people for swimming in unsanctioned events and they also get to decide what is santioned and unsanctioned. Laws in the US require USAS to give sanction to any event that meets the rules/requirements but this is not the case in other countries. We will have to be prepared to fight them in international court and it will be expensive. Swimmers will not want to jeopardize their chance to compete at World Championships and the Olympics, so FINA will ban swimmers if they participate in any other organizations’ events. FINA will fight and they play dirty.

Craig Lord

Karen. Indeed. But they will also have o face the possibility of half the top 20 in the world missing from the moment the IOC want them there… pressure comes from many quarters, not only the law … which in many countries around me and FINA have strict rules and cases of precedent on restriction of trade… another reason why swimmers need to move to professional representation.


longstroke- I think what’s hurting the system is that for the big players like the USA, Australia, and China, FINA is pretty irrelevant to their overall swim program in many ways. You show up at 1-2 big FINA events a year and then you have a robust domestic competition schedule that is far more relevant to the majority of their athlete base than a random World Cup event in Dubai.

Charlie Carson

The highlight of my many years in the swimming community was as an assistant competition manager at the Atlanta Olympics. Most of our staff’s interactions with FINA officials were cordial, businesslike, and occasionally fun. But there were also a few eye-opening instances when I saw the ways in which some of them expected to be kowtowed. I came away from the experience thinking FINA officials didn’t necessarily possess any greater or more extraordinary knowledge of our sports than dozens and dozens of administrators at local levels I’d met over the years.

Cornel, Julio — their tenures and those of some other FINA insiders precede Atlanta. There certainly is something to be said for stability by keeping experienced people with institutional memory on the job for many years. On the other hand, why some people were kept in their positions after the swimsuit fiasco alone has left far too many of us shaking our heads again and again.

Financial transparency is just one of many areas that could stand improvement, but let it be the test. Maybe this is the time the community will demand operational change and, if transparency isn’t forthcoming, gets the guts to hand them gold watches and turn the organization over to a new generation of leaders.

Craig Lord

Thank you for that insight Charlie.

Maria Susan Arabejo

I agree & I guess reforms have to be done as soon as possible.

Clive Rushton

Karen Reeder: you are right, it will get dirty. But it is necessary.

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