Fina defends approach but will seek new ways

LONDON • World swimming's governing body Fina has said that it will look for new ways to improve its structure after several world and Olympic champions raised concerns at a summit in London on Wednesday.

British breaststroke world record holder Adam Peaty was among 30 elite swimmers to call for more transparency and fair pay from Fina as they met to discuss setting up a global swimmers' association.

Athletes complained that their concerns had not been listened to. Fina said that its new athletes' committee will elect members, who are currently competing, and that they would have voting rights at its general congress.

"Supporting swimmers has been my life's work," Fina president Julio Maglione said in a statement.

"Fortunately, besides my personal contacts with our stars, we also have formal mechanisms for incorporating athlete feedback. And we will look for new ways to make even further improvements, because this is our way."

The summit was organised by the International Swimming League (ISL), a separate event body backed by Ukrainian energy businessman Konstantin Grigorishin, which intends to launch its own team competition next year. It will share at least £10 million (S$17.4 million) in prize money.

Fina said that it had consistently increased prize money for athletes at its events, such as the short-and long-course World Championships and the World Cup series.

"Fina's careful financial management has already seen it ensure a winning model for the future of aquatics that includes massively increased prize purses for athletes, up more than 500 per cent in 10 years," the statement said.

"Fina's approach has demonstrated prudence, including the establishment of necessary reserves to withstand the unforeseen cancellation of a major event, thus guaranteeing sustainability."

The governing body, founded in 1908, also said that it would increase development funds to help support promising swimmers. Concerns were raised at the summit that only champions would be able to gain sponsorship deals to support their careers.

Fina also clarified that it would not ban any athletes who take part in any unsanctioned event.

An ISL event to be held in Turin this week was cancelled. The Italian federation said Fina had declared the event "non-approved" and threatened sanctions against the participating athletes.

"Fina merely stated that results achieved in competitions for which approval and sanction were not duly sought and obtained would not be recognised," it said.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 22, 2018, with the headline 'Fina defends approach but will seek new ways'. Print Edition | Subscribe