Despite many concerns and accusations about FINA and their report that outlines the events surrounding Fran Crippen’s death, the final version, which was released today, was surprisingly thorough, informative, and conclusive.
The commission did not declare with certainty that Crippen died as a result of lax safety conditions (though they didn’t rule it out). They pointed to medical reports of uncontrollable asthma and said that a lack of medical exams on his heart did not allow them to declare or rule out any pre-existing condition. They also had testimony from several competitors and coaches who observed that Crippen did not seem to be himself throughout the race, and who regretted that they had not intervened previously. They also declared that regardless of the cause of Crippen’s death, safety conditions were not at a standard that would have ensured safety of competitors, regardless of pre-existing medical conditions.
The report (which is quite long, and laid out in 8-parts) mostly pointed that the framework for safety already existed within FINA rules, but that they allowed for too much flexibility and interpretation, and allowed too many loopholes with which event organizers could cut safety corners. For example, at the fated meet in the UAE where Crippen died, the meet referee held 3 of the administrative positions that are supposed to provide checks and balances at these meets.
The report also outlines the circumstances that we’ve heard a lot about, but haven’t really gotten full details on, with regard to the meet’s venue. Basically, the meet was slated to be hosted in Dubai, but financial difficulties caused organizers to have to seek a new location within the Emirates. Fujairah, the eventual host of the meet, appeared to be about “plan D,” at which point it would have been prudent to cancel or postpone the event to ensure that due diligence was taken.
The commission also laid out specific recommendations, which is the most far-reaching and important (though not as emotionally charged) part of the report. The most significant of these recommendations is regarding water temperature. The FINA commission has laid out even stricter temperature guidelines than USA Swimming’s committee, with a temperature range of between 18 Celcius (64.4 F) and 28 Celcius (82.4 F), as compared to the 16 degree minimum and 31 degree maximum that Richard Pound’s charges laid out.