FINA, the Federation International de Natation Amateur. Is it fit for purpose and are those in leadership positions fit to lead? Or are they letting the sport down? A wave of blunders and bad decisions in recent years, several notable examples from the past 12 months, have prompted leading coaches and athletes to ask: can FINA be repaired or is it time to replace the organisation that was created in 1908 but no longer appears to serves its constituency more than it serves its leadership.
A tipping point has been reached. Bill Sweetenham has suggested a way forward for the sport: FINA hold submit to independent review; open its books as the no-profit organisation it claims to be; and work to reform itself for he benefit of swimming. The World Swimming Association stands in the wings ready to replace FINA as the global federation for swimming. FINA would be left with diving, water polo and synchronised swimming as its key assets.
In this section, we collate all articles features and editorial related to the political crisis in swimming and the campaign for better and more accountable governance of the sport.
February 10, 2018 -
Weekend essay and editorial: Is the Olympic Movement weighed down by the corrupt, dishonest, dishonourable, unscrupulous, unprincipled, amoral, untrustworthy, underhand, deceitful, double-dealing, disreputable, discreditable, shameful and scandalous? Take any of those words and you will find them deep in the drifts of coverage and comments, blogs and barroom banter leading into the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. We’re not talking sport; we’re talking the one ring that rules them all at the Games of Thrones: politics, the very thing athletes are told to leave at home. In play is a culture in which sports governors pass the buck when things go wrong. So much is never their responsibility, never something they could have prevented, done something to make sure abuse did not take place. Many are those who have allowed others to own ‘mistakes’ that could and ought to have been prevented.
December 31, 2017 -
No 1 – #MeToo & How Wilful Blindness Pours Poison In The Pool. Many an annual glimpse over the shoulder at a polarised 2017 in media reviews far and wide across the globe has included #MeToo of late. That hashtag will spill and spill, ripple and roll in the year ahead and beyond. It has extensions, like #MeTooInSwimming. This file is dedicated to those who work on the betterment of swimming; to the victims and survivors of abuse and those, like Nancy Hogshead-Makar who have advocated, and those like Dia C Rianda, Katherine Starr and others who made complaint and fought against a system too often and too long unwilling to listen and even bent on blocking justice; to the generation of women summed up by the experience of Shirley Babashoff; to the teenager girls of the GDR who had syringes full of steroids stuck in their backsides by doctors and coaches, some of that while knowing that meant not only cheating in sport but ensuring lifelong medical complaints would be a part of the lives of the athletes – and ultimately in some cases their offspring down the years. This file is a message to the leadership of FINA that refused to even reply to a unanimous vote for reconciliation of victims and a new start filed to them by the Media Commission in January 2014: we await your response yet. And on that note, best wishes for a Healthy and Happy New Year to all our readers and the worldwide swimming community
December 23, 2017 -
For the remaining days of the countdown to 2018, SwimVortex will look back at 2017 through 20 of the most significant swimming stories of the year, some about the pool, the water and the competition, some about the politics, the woe and the competition, some about the issues where the pool and the politics meet and what that has meant for the murkiness of the water. Today, we start with No19 – Bullies, Blazers & A Master(s)class From The Prof; and No 20 – Hurtling Hosszu and the risks of Iron deficiency
December 19, 2017 -
Editorial. Russia had more than 25 swimmers on a list of about 300 athletes cited in the WADA report compiled by investigator Prof. Richard McLaren into Russian doping in 2016. They were deemed to have fallen foul of anti-doping rules in one way or another in the the past decade. Now, the names have been handed to FINA by a IOC and WADA asking for answers. Who, what and when….
December 12, 2017 -
British Swimming and its home-country affiliate in England are under yet more pressure to review their governance structures and culture after at least three complaints of “bullying” were made against a Swim England boss in the wake of efforts to remove a presentation on governance from the schedule at the organisation’s National Conference. The complaints are now being considered by what Swim England describes as the “independent” process through which such matters must flow
December 9, 2017 -
The World Swimming Coaches Association has called on FINA to scrap rules that confine swimmers to one global governor and forbid competition in any events held by organisations that are not affiliated to FINA, even if FINA rules are or would be observed.
December 8, 2017 -
The European Commission has ruled that International Skating Union (ISU) rules imposing severe penalties on athletes participating in speed skating competitions that are not authorised by the ISU are in breach of EU antitrust law. The ISU must now change rules that mirror closely those of FINA, the swimming federation and other international governance organisations that have long had a monopoly on events and participation in the sports they lead globally. The implications of the ruling for swimming is stark, FINA rules now obsolete on some levels. The rival World Swimming Association has already engaged in legal discussions aimed at fighting any FINA challenge to the right of swimmers to compete outside the FINA realm
December 8, 2017 -
The International Olympic Committee and FIFA have failed to show strong leadership after corruption and doping scandals, according to a European lawmakers group. The implication if that structures and systems of governance of organisations under the Olympic umbrella, such as FINA in swimming, would have to face radical reform for progress to be made. The conclusion of a Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) after two reports was stark: “… never before have sports faced such unprecedented loss of trust”.
December 5, 2017 -
There has never been a better moment to back independent journalism and coverage of the sport of swimming. That’s the bad news. The good news comes when we can say that all focus and super troupers can be trained on the swimmers and the swimming, the lore and legend of it all, because there is no longer any need to fight for the good governance that is so sorely lacking in the global pool as 2017 draws to a close. The question is: will you help us to provide that independent coverage?
December 5, 2017 -
“Something is not right, rife with errors from top to bottom, leading to suspicion of motive. If the authorities knew about the problems and chose not to prevent them, then clearly something is rotten in the state of Denmark”. – Marcellus in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Act I.
2017, nothing to do with Denmark, nor Hamlet much to do with the universal thought that underlines Shakespeare’s timeless line.
In swimming, Denmark is FINA, FINA is Denmark. No getting past it. Today we must deliver the sad news to all you swimmers dedicated and committed to hard, smart and consistent work, clean sport, fair play and engaged in programs that live and breathe that day in and day out.