Does the name Dale Neuburger ring any bells?
If you kept up with the contest for the FINA Presidency over the summer, then you probably know the name.
In early June SwimSwam published an interview with then-candidate for the FINA presidency Paolo Barelli, the current President of LEN and the Italian Swimming Federation. At that time Barelli was ramping up his campaign to unseat FINA President Julio Maglione of Uruguay, now serving his third-consecutive term as FINA President after beating Barelli 258-77 at the FINA Congress.
Throughout his campaign Barelli accused FINA Vice President Dale Neuburger (USA) of conflicts of interest, and even took on FINA before the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS). Ultimately, CAS ruled in FINA’s favor and Barelli’s charges were dismissed.
Barelli accused Neuburger of conflicts of interest because of his professional career with Swiss-based TSE Consulting SA (members of the FINA Bureau are technically volunteers), a company FINA has hired to help stage multiple events. Neuburger, however, is not a direct employee of TSE, but is the President of Sports Strategy Inc, located in the United States, which has an agency agreement with TSE Consulting SA, but more about that in part two.
Last month SwimSwam spoke with Neuburger about the various allegations brought against him, as well as the new quad and the build to 2020 and what he hopes to accomplish between now and Tokyo.
Neuburger also provided us with a lot of literature, including the CAS ruling for FINA vs Paolo Barelli, to letters dated September of 2006 sent to then-FINA President Mustapha Larfaoui regarding his employment with TSE, and the correspondences returned from Larfaoui and others over the years.
But enough recap. Let’s hear what Dale Neuburger has to say for himself, and get to know him a little bit.
SwimSwam: How would you explain your role on the FINA Bureau to a new member of the swimming community or a casual reader of SwimSwam?
Dale Neuburger: “[My] role is Vice President. I am one of the members of the FINA Executive Committee, and in some cases the FINA Executive Committee meets to make decisions between meetings of the FINA Bureau, because the FINA Bureau traditionally meets once or twice a year, and sometimes there are decisions that are more pressing that need to be made between those meetings.”
“In terms of responsibilities, I represent United States Aquatic Sports. United States Aquatic Sports is comprised of five organizations: USA Swimming, USA Diving, USA Synchro, USA Water Polo, and US Master Swimming. So my representation is not purely USA Swimming, it is to represent all of the aquatic disciplines, and five different constituent organizations of United States Aquatic Sports.”
“United States Aquatic Sports is a member of FINA, not USA Swimming… it’s United States Aquatic Sports, which is a collection of those five organizations.”
“[In] addition to that… since 2005 I’ve been the FINA Bureau Liaison to the FINA Technical Swimming Committee. Which means I’m responsible for bringing information to the Technical Swimming Committee and its meetings about FINA Bureau actions or initiatives. And I’m also the person who represents the FINA Technical Swimming Committee at FINA Bureau meetings to get its recommendations for approval to the FINA Bureau. So anything that comes forward related to swimming as a discipline comes through the Technical Swimming Committee to the FINA Bureau, and I’m responsible for communicating those recommendations. In some cases they’re very clear and straight-forward; in sometimes they need additional explanation for rationale, or for past history, or something of that sort.”
“I also serve as Chairman of… since 2009, of the FINA Development Commission, [which] is responsible for promoting the development of the sport worldwide. And I’m very happy to say the number of American coaches and officials who are part of the program has substantially increased. And there are many American representatives, both in coaching clinics and officiating clinics across the five disciplines, and a substantial contribution, substantial participation by American representatives with very high levels of expertise and experience.”
Neuburger’s sports bio can be found here.
SwimSwam: “I’m glad you mentioned the participation on the American side, because that brings to mind something Paolo Barelli said; that he was hoping for a future in which countries like the United States–the strongest federations in the world–step up and take more of a role within FINA. Do you think we’re already there? Do you think we’re already leading? Is there more the United States could do within [FINA]?”
Dale Neuburger: “…just in brief form, there are 22 committees within the government structure of FINA, and there are American representatives on 19 of those committees, [with] 8 of those individuals in leadership positions within those committees.”
“The United States has more participation [and] more representation within FINA governance than any other country in the world by a wide margin. And the people who are members of those committees and commissions are some of the most accomplished and well-respected individuals in the world.”
“I will tell you that as I advocated for Americans… it was an easier task because the individuals who were nominated are people of high distinction, high character, high accomplishment, and I think the representation of the United States is at the highest level ever in FINA history, and also demonstrates American leadership within FINA, which I think is very important to the future of our sport.”
American representatives on FINA Committees include:
|Technical Swimming||Carol Zaleski, Chairman||Doping Control Review Board||Daniel Eichner|
|Technical Swimming||Dale Neuburger, Bureau Liaison||Media||Gregory Eggert, Honorary Secretary|
|Technical Diving||Colleen “Cokey” Huffman||Facilities||Mick Nelson|
|Technical High Diving||Tom Gompf, Chairman||Swimsuit Advisory||David Pendergast|
|Technical Artistic (Synchro)||Ginny Jasontek, Vice Chairman||National Federation Relations||Ron Van Pool|
|Technical Water Polo||Takeshi Inoue||Development||Dale Neuburger, Chairman|
|Technical Open Water||Sid Cassidy, Vice Chairman||Athletes||Aaron Peirsol|
|Masters||Mel Goldstein, Vice Chairman||Coaches Committee||Drew Johansen (Diving)|
|Ethics||Bill Hybl, Chairman||Coaches Committee||Tammy McGregor (Artistic/Synchro)|
|Legal||Richard Young||Coaches Committee||Adam Krikorian (Water Polo)|
|Sports Medicine||Jim Miller||Coaches Committee||Dustin Webster (High Diving)|
|Doping Panel||Bill Bock||Coaches Committee||Catherine Vogt (Open Water Swimming)|
SwimSwam: “Do you have specific goals you would like to see achieved during this quad? What are you and FINA doing to make the international aquatics community better? What would you like to see FINA take forward through this next quad that will make the sport better?”
Dale Neuburger: “Yes, absolutely. I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t have some goals that were kind of the universal or global goals for our sport. And, first I would tell you that I’ve been the Chairman of FINA Development Commission since 2009. In Rio there were 103 national federations worldwide who had athletes who achieved either an ‘A’ or a ‘B’ standard for competition in Rio 2016. That number for London 2012 was 81. So in a period of four years, 22 additional federations worldwide had at least one athlete who achieved an ‘A’ or a ‘B’ standard.”
“The numbers are basically 68 federations with ‘A’ standards, [and] 35 federations with ‘B’ standards only. So that was a significant increase in the number of federations worldwide who had athletes who are performing within–at least one athlete performing within–three percent of the 16th-place time at the previous Olympic Games (London). So, a big improvement.”
“Our goal is to reach 125 federations that will have at least one swimmer with an ‘A’ or a ‘B’ standard, recognizing that the standards keep getting tougher. That’s the measure of development that we think is really important, and it’s something that we’re very focused on, and will continue to represent when we have real progress. So, first goal is to increase the number of national federations worldwide that have at least one swimmer who is qualified for the Olympic Games in Tokyo with an ‘A’ or a ‘B’ standard.”
“Second… I hope that [there] will be greater athlete participation, greater athlete engagement, in the governance process for FINA over the next four years. I think there is no single goal that is more important to the ongoing success of our sport and the organization than the vitality and the energy and the creativity that’s going to come from athletes who are… in the governance of FINA and the governance of our sport. So, I’m absolutely committed to working with athlete leadership both domestically and internationally to help those goals to be achieved.”
“Third… our sport is at [the] greatest point in its history right now. In Beijing, London, and Rio, swimming was the most-watched sport of the Olympic Games. By the IOC’s measurement, not by FINA’s. So for the first time, 2008, -12, -16, swimming, not athletics, [was] the number one broadcast sport worldwide for the Olympic Games.”
“Swimming had the most social media interaction [in] Rio 2016, the first time it was measured by the IOC. First time ever. More interaction for swimming than any other sport. More interaction with Michael Phelps than any other athlete.”
“Swimming now has 49 events on the Olympic program. More events than any other sport, including athletics, for the first time since 1896. So with 49 events on the Olympic program, out of the 328… sets of medals that are won at the Olympic Games. Swimming is more important than it’s ever been before.”
“And fourth, FINA now has significant financial reserves that are greater than they were five years ago—substantially greater than five years ago, for a lot of reasons. And now it’s time for us to use that money to invest in the sport. Invest in the future of the sport. So I will be very active in new programs, new initiatives, that are expensive, but also have the potential to transform our sport. To maintain our position as the number one Olympic sport, but also to transform our sport in a number of ways.”
“So, in summary: One is development, because, if you’re going to—our position is helped because we’re truly a global sport, not just a regional sport. So, the bigger our participation among qualified athletes worldwide, the better. Two, athlete representation and engagement. And three, new programs and initiatives to use our financial resources in FINA to transform the sport in a number of different ways.”
If you’re wondering where the “juicy” Q/A is, please note this piece is intended to serve as an introduction to Dale Neuburger. His responses to conflict of interest allegations, athlete representation in FINA, and more will come in parts two and three.