As many of you are well aware, there have been major disruptions in the Olympic Swimming world and the world of Olympic sports in general since the middle of 2015. The American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA) has weighed in on all of them, to a greater or lesser extent. Below, a short survey of the issues, and even shorter, review of ASCA work on the topic.

  1. Organization Corruption at the Highest Levels
    Speaking here of FIFA, of course. More than 16 high-level leaders indicted for criminal activity, specifically centered on bribes and related means to secure sites for various Soccer tournament locations. Complete and utter disruption of the world’s most popular sport. The issue for Swimming is that all the “Lausanne sports” organizations listen to, report to, and take their lead from the International Olympic Committee (IOC). While the IOC today talks a tough game of anti-corruption, their DNA (and all of history) includes exactly the same sorts of things going on with sites for the Olympic Games.Anyone foolish enough to think that all the International Federations (IFs) do not discuss over expensive dinners how to do business to their best benefit, needs to join the real world. How does FINA consistently chose sites for championships and World Cups in places where the sport of Swimming is largely unknown and uncared about? Follow the money.The question is: where does that money wind up? Since under Swiss Law, the IFs have no requirement to submit audited statements of funds to the Swiss Government, any “audits” that they do undertake, study only what the IFs ASK THEM to study. Easy enough to circumvent that simple-minded ploy. There is a reason that the IFs primarily locate in Switzerland and Monte Carlo. The laws are very favorable to those who wish corruption. Lots of questions for FINA that are never answered. The Rome World Championships financial fiasco comes immediately to mind&helip; as well as all those other more oddly placed events.
  2. The Russian/IAAF Doping Scandal
    Mr. Richard Pound led the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA’s) independent investigation of the ARD (German TV) story that proved total anti-doping corruption in Russian Track & Field and implied the same in all other Russian sports. The Independent Committee report confirmed 100% of what was accused and found much, much more. The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) not only supplied the drugs to the athletes, they then extorted those same athletes so they would not “test positive”. The investigation showed total and complete corruption at every level of the process from sample collection to the actual lab bench testing, to the assignment of penalties; etc. 320 pages of startling revelations of state-run doping. Russian Track & Field suspended. Samples dumped in the sink; not only in Russia, but in other labs (Swiss) as well.

    ASCA/WSCA in January warned FINA directly of the coming news and recommended not using the Moscow lab for the testing at the 2015 World Champs, and shipping tests elsewhere. The FINA Executive Director responded with his complete confidence in all that RUSADA does and did nothing. When everything ASCA/WSCA told him came true, FINA belatedly said in effect: “oops”. So drug testing from the 2015 World Champs might as well never have happened. Another instance of FINA getting it 100% and more wrong. And protecting dopers at the expense of clean athletes.

  3. The IAAF’s Role
    Part of ARD’s documentary focused on the corruption at the IAAF that overlooked the cheating in RUSADA and Russia. Officials in the IF were equally corrupt in protecting the dopers in their sport. The potential parallel with FINA is unavoidable. And in the case of FINA, the evidence of being soft on doping begins with a dozen incidents of “not caring enough to pursue” doping issues and ends with the Executive Director stating to the press that “we can’t hold a few doping mistakes against the stars of our sport.” Of course not. FINA only gave its “sacred word” to abide by the WADA Code which it has repeatedly violated. Expect an IF to keep its word? Dream on.ASCA/WSCA has repeatedly recommended the idea below to WADA and FINA, which now has actually come from the IOC.
  4. Doping testing to be entirely run by WADA
    So far, this is conceptual only. Key issue to be resolved is “how to pay for it.” First blush answer: increased governmental funding for WADA and each international federation turning over the funds that it uses “today” to do testing, to WADA to help pay for it.

    The problem is: the IFs are responsible for building and promoting their sport. Catching your sport stars cheating does not help in this. Thus, they have a vested interest in not catching ANYONE.The solution is: isolate the testing and the punishment from the IFs, thus putting space between the “fox” and the “henhouse”. Have WADA take it over.

    This proposal has met with very substantial support, and while it has some problems of its own, it is our best option at this time. Finally, several proposals have the international Court of the Arbitration of Sports (CAS) taking over the punishment phase for all sports, to add fairness between sports and again, put space between IFs and the henhouse. Interesting new idea.

  5. World Swimming Association
    We proceed ahead to build a constitution to build the best possible International Federation. Constitutional convention: September 2017 in Washington, DC, USA. Concepts are: athlete-centered, transparent in all decision making, incorporate separate bodies of expertise (athletes organization, Open Water association; etc.) in the body to run their own affairs, and professionally directed.Open Water appears to have consensus support among WSA-interested parties. Constitution is online and will be updated with proposed clauses every few months. (January 2016 Next Edition)
An Advocacy Update – December 2015