FINA says that it has “taken note” of the two lawsuits filed against it in the US District Court for the Northern District of California late last week, but says that their current attention is on the World Short Course Championships.
Katinka Hosszu, Michael Andrew, and Tom Shields (the former two of whom are racing in Hangzhou at Worlds this week), filed a request for class action status in an anti-trust lawsuit against FINA in California late last week over FINA’s blocking of the International Swimming League’s (ISL’s) Energy for Standard meet that was due to take place in Italy in 2 weeks. The ISL has filed a separate lawsuit on the same grounds.
“As World and Olympic champions, the swimmers in question will understand better than others that FINA’s attention is currently and appropriately focused on the 950 swimmers, including two of the athletes in question,” at the World Championships FINA said, re-emphasizing the $2 million+ in prize money that will be given out at that meet. That prize money was doubled after ISL announced their Energy for Standard meet which was drawing a number of international stars away.
FINA re-emphasized their openness to proposals that they say “would genuinely enhance – rather than conflict with – the current and planned competition calendars…in a manner that benefits the whole sport.” FINA also said that they would “continue to innovate in terms of competition format, sports entertainment, broadcast and digital distribution,” addressing one of the primary pillars of the new ISL – a desire to bring the sport to the world in a more entertaining fashion.
FINA originally explained their blocking of the ISL meet by saying that it wasn’t brought to them with enough time to meet FINA’s new 6-month policy, but now seems to be indicating that it is conflicts with existing FINA events that caused them to block the Energy for Standard meet and the ISL.
Shortly after the suit was filed, FINA posted a picture of Michael Andrew, one of the lead plaintiffs, at the aquatics convention. His dad and coach, Peter Andrew, was giving a presentation at the convention while news was breaking of the lawsuit:
Full FINA Statement is Below:
FINA has taken note of the filings with the US District Court for the Northern District of California. As World and Olympic champions, the swimmers in question will understand better than others that FINA’s attention is currently and appropriately focused on the 950 swimmers, including two of the athletes in question, from 180 member federations taking part in the 14th FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) in Hangzhou (CHN), where prize money of US$ 2,070,000 will be distributed.
FINA will nonetheless give the filings our full attention and mount a robust defense if required to do so. Meanwhile in Hangzhou, the FINA Athletes Committee will consult with aquatics athletes in order to continue its work of making sure athlete voices are clearly heard within FINA’s decision-making bodies.
As always, FINA remains open to proposals that would genuinely enhance – rather than conflict with – the current and planned competition calendars, providing further opportunities for aquatics athletes, and ideally in a manner that benefits the whole sport. With FINA’s events serving as the foundation of international swimming competition, FINA will also continue to innovate in terms of competition format, sports entertainment, broadcast and digital distribution, in order to set stages worthy of our sport’s stars.