FINA folds over threat to ban swimmers in rebel comp
THE independent swimming league at the centre of a stand-off about the right of athletes to compete for improved prizemoney has welcomed a decision by governing body FINA to lift a threat to ban those taking part in its competitions.
Still, the International Swimming League said more needed to be done after FINA's threat to ban swimmers who were to compete in a December meeting ended up with the competition cancelled.
"This is a step in the right direction to free swimmers to compete more and earn more," ISL managing director Andrea Di Nino said in a statement on Wednesday (local time).
"FINA's capitulation comes in reaction to ISL's and elite swimmers' anti-trust lawsuits that exposed FINA's illegal threatened ban of swimmers who participate in ISL's events."
Olympic and world champions filed an anti-trust suit in California last month over FINA's threats.
The Switzerland-based swim body announced on Tuesday after consulting with national federations: "FINA acknowledges that swimmers are free to participate in competitions or events staged by independent organisers."
However, results and records will be unofficial if ISL organisers fail to get FINA's approval, including fitting into the official events calendar and running an approved doping control program.
"We can move forward but what they're saying is, 'OK, we won't disqualify you but we won't recognise your results,"' Di Nino told The Associated Press.
"We consider this gesture of dialogue from FINA a positive response but it doesn't resolve the problem. We're happy to respect all of WADA's (anti-doping) rules."
FINA has countered the ISL with a proposed three-meet series starting in March and paying $3.9 million in prizemoney.
It also topped up the prize fund by almost $1 million for the short-course world championships held in China last month.
Conflict between FINA and swimmers increased before the scheduled privately run meeting in December in Turin, Italy. It was cancelled amid the threatened bans.