At a USA Swimming open board meeting in the Spring of 2015, a prominent lawyer who works for both USA Swimming and FINA made the off-hand comment to the board that “The International Olympic Committee doesn’t operate with written rules.” The mild-mannered lawyer tossed out that explosive comment in his usual off-hand way, and not everyone caught it. But for those that did, it tells the entire story of international sports governance in one short sentence. It says, in essence, that the IOC operates outside THE RULE OF LAW.

The IOC of course is the granddaddy of Olympic Sport. Under them come both the International Federations (IFs) (FIFA for Soccer, FINA for Swimming, IAAF for Track & Field, etc.) The IFs act as subsidiaries for the IOC in each sport. (Recent history suggests the mis-governance and criminal behavior inherent in two of those, already proven and indicted.)

Also under the IOC comes the Olympic committees of each nation. In the case of the USA, the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC). Read that again, please: the USOC is a SUBSIDIARY of the IOC. It is not (as it usually tries to portray itself) an AMERICAN (USA) institution&helip; it is a “creature” of the IOC. And as such, will do ANYTHING (including go along with endangering American Open Water athletes who will swim in a viral sewer in the Rio Olympics) in order to curry favor with the mother-ship of the IOC and secure an American Olympic Games for Los Angeles. The USOC is not “us”, it is “them”.

So both the International Federations and the various National Olympic Committees “belong” to the IOC as subsidiaries. So when our lawyer friend says “The IOC doesn’t operate with written rules”, he truly assesses the entire system, including and especially the IFs who learn their every move in international sport politics from the IOC.

No surprise to any of us who have dealt for decades with FINA. A supposedly democratic Congress is told how to vote by those that pay their way to the Congress (the FINA Bureau) in meetings the day before the Congress itself, then they create “rules” that are regularly IGNORED or OVERRIDDEN by the President, the Executive Director and/or the Bureau. (See recent articles on anti-doping, meet entries and legal swim facilities, and the statements of FINA President, Executive Director and Bureau Members.)

In other words, the RULES MEAN NOTHING. Not the doping rules, not the facility rules, not the entry rules (entry cut times). All can be set aside by the dictators at the top. In other words, we are NOT governed by the RULE OF LAW. We are governed by the RULE OF DICTATORS at the top.

Is that what YOU want?

Some of my readers also live in countries where that is the case. My sympathy to you. Freedom depends on the rule of law. I am lucky, live in a real democracy, which, while imperfect, generally respects the rule of law.

As we build a new world Swimming organization called the World Swimming Association, we intend to abide by the rule of law. We hope you will join us.

Find the Constitution we are building with world-wide input from everyone at

We will approve a Constitution at a constitutional convention in September 2017 in Washington, DC, USA. We hope you will be there.

The Rule of Law