CAS Rejects Appeal of Former LEN President Paolo Barelli

Former European Aquatics (LEN) President Paolo Barelli has lost his suspension appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Barelli was initially suspended for two years in November 2022, and then his ban was extended to three years this past March.

The suspension was handed to Barelli for the alleged wrongdoing in three separate cases, including multiple rule violations of the FINA Constitution and the FINA Code of Ethics.

“The appeal presented by Mr. Paolo Barelli against the decision of the Fina Ethics Committee is rejected,” the CAS said Friday, according to la Repubblica. “The decision of the International Swimming Federation of 8 November 2022 is therefore confirmed.”

The 69-year-old Barelli, who served as the President of the Italian Swimming Federation in addition to his role with LEN, says he will now take his appeal to the Swiss Supreme Court.

“The ruling changes nothing for the purposes of federal life; the year of disqualification expired on September 14th and the activities at the same time continued in full operation, but I will still appeal to the Swiss Supreme Court to protect the correctness of my actions and of the Italian Swimming Federation,” Barelli said in a statement.

In its decision to issue the suspension last year, the World Aquatics Ethics Panel determined that Barelli claimed and accepted undue payments and failed to report a conflict of interest, specifically including:

  • The unilateral signing of an addendum to a contract between LEN and FIN that would benefit the latter by between  500,000 and  1,500,000.
  • The claiming of expenses totaling € 495,587.22 from the Italian Olympic Committee, on behalf of FIN, despite these already having been paid by the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance. This was found by the appeal chamber of the Italian Court of Auditors to have caused pecuniary damages. 
  • See the full Ethics Panel decision here.

With the extra year added on, Barelli’s suspension will extend to September 14, 2025. However, that date could be pushed even further if he doesn’t repay what he owes to World Aquatics by the end date.

The suspension restricts Barelli from taking part in any aquatics-related activities under the auspices of World Aquatics or any of its members.

Barelli was a candidate for the presidency of World Aquatics (then FINA) when current president Husain Al-Musallam won the right to lead the governing body.

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About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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