FINA Suspends Former LEN President Paolo Barelli Indefinitely

FINA has suspended Paolo Barelli, the former LEN President and current leader of the Italian Swimming Federation, effective immediately.

In a press release issued Wednesday, the international governing body for aquatic sports said that its independent Ethics Panel had provisionally suspended Barelli for alleged wrongdoing in three separate cases, including multiple rule violations of the FINA Constitution and the FINA Code of Ethics.

FINA said the investigation on Barelli was launched after “multiple referrals” of allegations, though didn’t elaborate further.

SwimSwam has reached out to FINA for further clarification on what Barelli is being accused of.

FINA declined to provide additional details, providing the following statement:

“While FINA will continue to relay decisions of the independent Ethics Panel, it would not be appropriate for FINA to comment on ongoing cases.”

In addition to being the former LEN President and current President of the Italian Swimming Federation (FIN), the 68-year-old Barelli is a former FINA Vice President and previously sat on the FINA Bureau. He served a four-year term from 2009-2013 with FINA as Honorary Secretary.

Barelli’s provisional suspension precludes him from “exercising any functions and participating in any activities within FINA, FINA Continental Organizations and FINA Member Federations.” As a result, he will be ineligible to continue running the Italian federation while his suspension remains intact.

Barelli offered his immediate reaction to the news in Italian media:

“My suspension from FINA? It is an unpleasant and completely instrumental thing in a delicate moment of politics, not just sports,” he said via translation, adding that he will soon issue his own press release in response.

There has long been simmering tension between Barelli and FINA President Husain Al-Musallam, including Barelli’s failed run at becoming FINA President in 2017.

Last year, after being re-elected to another four-year term as LEN President in 2020, Barelli’s administration received a vote of no confidence and he was abruptly voted out of the leadership role that he had held since 2012. The group that took over his post, led by Portugal’s António José Silva, received support from Al-Musallam and FINA in the move.

Meanwhile, Barelli is a candidate for re-election to the Italian Senate, for the Forza Italia party, which is currently leading the national polls.

In 2020, Barelli was put under investigation for allegations of financial misconduct.

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Kurt Dickson
2 months ago

Not sure if it’s my OCD, but for some reason, I need to take a shower every time I hear “FINA”

Reply to  Kurt Dickson
2 months ago

quickly becoming the filthiest international sports fed for sure

Reply to  Kurt Dickson
2 months ago

fina as an organization is so filthy. scrubbing off all the grime will take years

2 months ago

fina likes to appear virtuous but in reality it has been happy to have barelli’s corruption for many years. Just like zhou jihong’s corruption now

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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