Back in March of this year, SwimSwam reported that the FINA Executive Bureau proposed an amendment deleting the maximum age rule of elected FINA members, including the role of President.
Current rules state that the maximum age of elected Bureau members ‘must be no more than eighty (80) years in the year of the election to the FINA Bureau’. Incumbent, FINA President, Julio César Maglione, is in the midst of his second term, which runs until 2017 when he will be the age of 81.
In an exclusive new report, Inside the Games quotes Maglione as in support of the proposed rule change, which could go into effect as early as July during the FINA Extraordinary Congress meeting in Kazan. “Because one thing is age; another is the biological situation of each person”, Maglione is quoted as saying in response to why the Bureau wanted removal of the age restriction. He continued, “Most federations don’t have an age limit. Maybe we don’t put a limit of age for me….I don’t know. We need to see if the federation approves or not.”
Additionally, when questions were broadened to include recent criticism of FINA by the global swimming community, Maglione responded, “For me, the important thing is what the national federations want. Others are free to say what they want.” When asked about overall global FINA backing, Maglione indicated that he “thinks” national bodies support him.
Maglione’s stance is seen as the epitome of hypocrisy by some within the world’s swimming community. Lawrie Cox, Secretary of the Oceania Swimming Association and former Australian Delegate to FINA Congress (2009-11), points to history, saying “the campaign made by those supporting Julio Maglione [for FINA President in 2009] was based on not allowing a President to hold office in the future for more than two consecutive terms.” Cox also indicates that, at the time, it was made clear by Maglione’s proponents that he would only “serve one term and enable a hand over in 2013 to new blood.” In summary, Cox exclaims, “Time to go Julio and take the Bureau members who supported the proposed amendments with you.”
John Leonard, World Swim Coaches Association (WSCA) Executive Director further echoes these same sentiments. “While a DISCUSSION of the age of FINA Bureau members is entirely relevant”, Leonard declares, “the deletion of Age Limits completely is a blatant attempt to protect the aging President of FINA, now in his 8th decade. Worse, the current President came to office initially on a campaign to create an age limit (which removed his most serious competition in his first election…). Now, the same man expects us to remove the age limit that he applied, because he wants to continue to serve beyond the current age limit!”
Laying out the chronology of what Leonard calls a “fake democracy”, he explains that at the time Maglione was seeking a second term, Maglione “promised he would serve no more than two terms….And of course in his first term, he promised to serve no more than ONE term! We can expect this to change again in 2021, when he wants to serve a FOURTH term.”
Note, if the Board does indeed decide to remove the age limit restrictions, we could be seeing Maglione as FINA President through a third term, which would run until 2021.