Peaty blasts Fina, backs rival series

Breaststroke king among 30 stars to demand more say and bigger share of its revenue

LONDON • Olympic champion Adam Peaty has challenged Fina to ban him after the Briton backed plans to launch a rival circuit to the World Cup series run by swimming's world governing body.

The International Swimming League (ISL), which offers a bigger prize pool, was scheduled for a test event in Turin, Italy, today and tomorrow. But it was cancelled after Fina threatened to ban participants from next July's World Championships in Gwangju.

"I don't care, ban me if you've got to," he told BBC Sport.

"I'm not bothered. They know they can't. They can't get away with it because you'll lose all of the respect from the athletes and you can't bully them."

Peaty, who holds the world record in the 50m and 100m breaststroke, was one of more than 30 Olympic and world champions to have met in London on Wednesday to discuss having more power and say amid frustrations with Fina.

Triple Olympic champion Katinka Hosszu added: "If anyone of us gets a ban, we will stand together, (but) it shouldn't be about banning."

On Dec 7, the Hungarian, together with Americans Tom Shields and Michael Andrews, filed a class-action lawsuit against Fina in the United States after the ISL event was shut down, challenging its monopoly over the control of international competitions.

WE DESERVE BETTER

I don't care, ban me if you've got to. I'm not bothered. They know they can't. They can't get away with it because you'll lose all of the respect from the athletes and you can't bully them.

ADAM PEATY, 50m and 100m breaststroke world record holder, who supports Fina's rival, the International Swimming League.

POOR DEAL

Many swimmers can't even pay their rent. I'm talking about Olympic swimmers who have to rely on their parents.

SARAH SJOSTROM, Swedish Olympic star, on the poor deal swimmers get compared to their counterparts in other sports.

Fina last week announced a new team event to start the new year, the Champions Swim Series, with a reported US$3.9 million (S$5.3 million) in prize money in a bid to placate athletes. The ISL will share at least £10 million (S$17.4 million), with further incentives based on additional sponsorship and broadcast deals, reported the BBC.

Peaty, 23, said that Fina needs to show more transparency and give 50 per cent of its revenue to athletes, adding that he felt that the sport had "no integrity".

"50-50," he told Reuters when asked what he wanted from Fina.

"If you're making X amount on a broadcast deal or from sponsorship, the teams and their athletes need to see 50 per cent of that deal.

"Also, the athletes need their voices heard because we haven't been listened to."

At the London meeting, a proposal was mooted for a global swimmers' association, which is intended to help efforts to withdraw from competitions in which they do not believe they are getting a fair share of the revenue.

Fina did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Peaty explained that while a champion could attract sponsors, the same could not be said of a swimmer who just misses out on a podium finish, even if they are the fourth best in the world.

The American double Olympic backstroke champion Ryan Murphy agreed, saying: "I'm lucky that Speedo saw I could bring value to them but not every swimmer is lucky like that. So it is important for us to increase our opportunities outside of the major meets."

Swedish star Sarah Sjostrom added: "I feel like swimming has been stuck in the 1990s and we really deserve a lot more than we get.

"Many swimmers can't even pay their rent. I'm talking about Olympic swimmers who have to rely on their parents.

The ISL intends to finally launch its competition next year which would feature 12 teams from Europe and the United States.

Its backer, the Ukrainian energy businessman Konstantin Grigorishin, went as far as suggesting that "the day of the sports governing body is coming to an end".

"My opinion is that there was a time when governing bodies were very useful for the development of sport," he told the insidethegames website. "But governing bodies cannot take care of professional business entities. In commercially successful sports, governing bodies do not play such a big role."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 21, 2018, with the headline 'Peaty blasts Fina, backs rival series'. Print Edition | Subscribe