World Swim Body aims for more integrity, better marketing

GENEVA (AP) – Acknowledging poor or no relationship with athletes, world swimming body FINA detailed plans on Monday reform to regain confidence and better promote sport.

Priorities include the creation of an independent integrity unit modeled on athletics to end the internal doping case handling system.

“Athletes, in particular, have little confidence in the integrity of FINA’s anti-doping, judging and ethics system,” wrote a group of advisers appointed by the governing body to draft ideas.

In swimming’s most publicized recent doping case, a FINA tribunal ruling that allowed Chinese star Sun Yang to compete in the 2019 world championships sparked protests from some of his opponents.

Sun was subsequently banned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport for eight years – then on a new trial for four years – after the World Anti-Doping Agency challenged FINA’s decision.

If FINA member federations approve the idea in December, the proposed Aquatic Integrity Unit is expected to start work next June. He would investigate the cases and prosecute them in the CAS anti-doping tribunal.

A list of modernization changes was promised when then FINA Vice President Husain al-Musallam was elected without opposition in June at the head of the Lausanne-based body.

The key hiring of the new Kuwaiti president was a first new director general in 35 years, Brent Nowicki, an American lawyer recruited by the CAS where he had been general counsel.

FINA’s old leadership style was widely criticized Monday in a reform bill that spoke of “significant transparency and communication issues,” a “passive” marketing strategy and “like-for-like” trade rights agreements. more to a transaction than a partnership “.

The international events calendar has been criticized for offering quantity over quality, with too many events being held in Asia or Europe and broadcast with little innovation that has failed to promote athletes.

“FINA should do a better job of telling the stories of its athletes,” the reform document said, also recommending an increase in prize money.

The document noted that “the lack of relationships with athletes” was an obstacle to the production of more digital content, which was key to FINA’s future strategy.

FINA is currently heading south by three Olympic gold medalists, Katinka Hosszú of Hungary and Americans Michael Andrew and Tom Shields, in an antitrust lawsuit filed in California court in 2018.

Al-Musallam pledged to engage more with athletes and held talks with Matt Biondi, the great American swimmer who heads the new International Swimmers Alliance.

It was also recommended to delete the word FINA, acronym of its traditional name in French.

“The world wants commitment, enthusiasm and a brand to identify with,” said reform proponents, chaired by veteran Olympic lawyer and longtime FINA advisor François Carrard.

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