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  • FINA Softens Stance on ISL


    01/15/19

    (ATR) The international governing body for swimming removes the threat of a ban for athletes who compete in the upstart International Swimming League (ISL).

    FINA dramatically changes stance toward ISL (FINA)
    Following a meeting of FINA leadership and selected national federations in Lausanne on Tuesday, FINA says that swimmers are now free to participate in competitions or events staged by independent organizers.

    The decision comes five weeks after three top swimmers filed a class-action lawsuit against FINA in California, claiming antitrust violations. The ISL also simultaneously filed a lawsuit against FINA for its “anticompetitive conduct”.

    The lawsuits were a response to ISL being forced in November to cancel the Energy for Swim 2018 competition scheduled for December after FINA threatened to ban athletes for up to two years for competing in what it had ruled was an unapproved meet.

    But FINA's views have softened dramatically since then.

    FINA President Julio Maglione, in a statement, said “While FINA is bound to respect its rules, there is some scope for interpretation and application of those rules and it was a pleasure to be able to provide clarifications today.”

    FINA Legal Counsel François Carrard, who was present at Tuesday's meeting, says the decision includes a caveat for those swimmers keen on results or records.

    ISL Global Ambassador Federica Pellegrini and ISL founder Konstantin Grigorishin (Instagram/Federica Pellegrini)
    “FINA recognizes the right of athletes to participate in any swimming event. However, this participation should respect the frame of sport structure. FINA’s business is not to punish athletes, although if the FINA rules are not met, the results of the competition will not be recognized by FINA,” Carrard said in a statement.

    FINA says the organizer of any independent event would have to seek and get the proper approval from FINA or the relevant member federation for the results or records to count.

    The ISL has so far not responded to a request by Around the Rings for comment on the latest FINA decision.

    FINA is trying to blunt the impact of ISL with the launch of the “Champions Swim Series” competition, which the ISL said “shamelessly copied” key aspects of its international swimming league.

    The two competing series will not overlap on the 2019 calendar. The FINA competition will run between March and May while the ISL swimming league season is expected to begin after the Pan American Games end in August and will wrap up in December with the semifinals and final in Las Vegas.

    Written by Gerard Farek

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