Earlier this week, we reported that Janet Evans had pulled herself from USA Swimming’s nomination to replace current Americas representative Dale Neuburger on the FINA Bureau, and that according to multiple sources, this was because Neuburger would instead seek the FINA presidency.
In a statement to SwimSwam today, Neuburger denied that he was doing so, refuting our sources. You can read that statement, in its entirety, below:
“Allow me to state unequivocally that I am not a candidate for FINA President, nor have I been in the past, nor foresee being so in the future. Your ‘multiple sources’ are totally incorrect.
For nineteen years, I have served as FINA Vice President, elected unanimously by United States Aquatic Sports through its five constituent organizations ( USA Swimming, USA Diving, USA Synchro, USA Water Polo, and US Masters Swimming) on five occasions (2000, 2005, 2009, 2013, and 2017).
Regarding Janet Evans, I nominated her as my successor, and I guided and supported her candidacy through the USAS approval process. I am disappointed that she has chosen to withdraw from consideration for FINA Bureau membership, but I am hopeful that she will be able to undertake such a role in the future. We have known each other for thirty years, and I regard her with high respect as an icon of our sport
Further, it is unfortunate that you continue to raise allegations of conflict of interest. These were the unsubstantiated comments of an unsuccessful and desperate candidate who received less than 30% of the votes cast in the election for FINA President. The International Court of Arbitration for Sport dismissed these charges on two occasions, with the plaintiff responsible for all court costs. Additionally, after thorough review, the FINA Ethics Panel affirmed no breach of ethical standards.
I have two years remaining in my term as FINA Vice President, and I will look forward to fulfilling my duties to FINA and USAS. For the record, the United States has representatives on nineteen of the twenty FINA committees and commissions (slightly less than double the number of any other country in the world), providing unprecedented American leadership opportunities to advance our sport. I expect that the FINA World Championships in Gwangju (KOR) in the coming weeks, as well as the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games with 49 medal events (more than any other sport), will solidify the preeminent position of Swimming within the Olympic sport space.”
The “allegations of conflict of interest” to which Neuburger referred relates to comments made during the run for the FINA presidency in 2017. Neuberger was not a candidate, but still was at the center of a controversy in that election relating to his role as the president of UANA. Challenger Paolo Barelli contended that Neuburger’s work with TSE Consulting constituted a conflict of interest with his position in FINA, and as Neuburger noted, the Court of Arbitration for Sport ultimately dismissed Barelli’s case. Neither candidate became president, as incumbent Julio Maglione, 83, was re-elected.
Neuburger has served on the USA Swimming Board of Directors since 1990, and has held his current FINA role as a vice president since 2000. In USA Swimming’s Board of Directors meeting notes from February 2018, it was revealed that he was set to retire in 2021.
Until recently, it was expected that FINA‘s current First Vice President Husain Al Musallam, also secretary general of the recently unsuspended Kuwait Olympic Committee would become president with the financial backing of Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah of Kuwait, to whom he is a longtime aide.
Sheikh Ahmad has been president of the Olympic Council of Asia since 1991 and has been a member of the International Olympic Committee since 1992 – he’s a close ally of IOC President Thomas Bach – but stepped away from the IOC late last year after being indicted on charges of forgery in Geneva, Switzerland, limiting his power within FINA. Shiekh Ahmad also reportedly opted not to seek re-election to his role as president of the Association of National Olympic Committees at Bach’s request, but maintains his innocence in the investigation.
Evans was nominated by USA Swimming in June 2018 to represent the Americas, and more specifically serve as treasurer, with her expected term running 2021-2015. According to our sources, she had the backing of all necessary organizations to proceed with that campaign before she ended it.