Indian Swimmer Alleges Timing Manipulation At Uzbekistan Open Championships

Indian swimmer Likith Selvaraj Prema says meet organizers at the Uzbekistan Open manipulated results to create more Olympic qualifying times. Prema is calling on FINA to investigate and take action against the organizers.

Prema competed in the meet, and says he publicly protested the timing manipulation. He published a nearly-ten-minute video to YouTube, detailing the allegations and including race video of the events in question.

“At this competition, it was quite sad and heartbreaking to see a lot of manipulation of the times in favor of the Uzbekistan swimmers,” Prema says in his video. He says the manipulation “also resulted in wrong times being recorded for Indian swimmers as well, which we never asked for.”

Prema asks FINA to launch an investigation into the meet results, calling on other swimmers to come forward as well. SwimSwam has had multiple swimmers, from both India and Uzbekistan, reach out to support the allegations.

The full video:

Allegations of Manipulation

Prema says that in several events, meet organizers shut off the scoreboard and didn’t tell athletes their times. The times eventually listed on results do not line up with race videos, Prema says.

A few of the times Prema says were manipulated, including time-stamps of the race videos Prema provides:

Men’s 100 free heats: Prema says Aleksey Tarasenko swam a 51 in prelims, but the time was changed to 48.55, giving Tarasenko the “A” cut for Olympic qualification.

Video does appear to show the top swimmer in the heat finishing around 51 seconds, and no swimmer finishing in the 48s. The final, which runs right after prelims in the video, appears to show the winner somewhere in the mid-49s.

Time-stamp – 5:07

Men’s 100 fly heats: Prema says times from the entire top 8 were manipulated, with Indian swimmer Sajan Prakash qualifying first, but being listed in third place behind two swimmers from Uzbekistan. Adilbek Yusupbaev was listed in heats results at 51.71 and Eldor Usmonov at 51.83. In the final, Prakash beat both swimmers head-to-head while swimming a much slower time (53.69).

Again, the video provided shows the two fastest swimmers in the prelims heat finishing at about 54 seconds. In the final, Prakash (in lane 3) finishes at about 53 seconds, and the video shows the blank scoreboard both during and after the race.

Time-stamp – 7:18

Prema’s Protest

Prema, a breaststroker, used one of his own events to protest the alleged manipulation of times. In the 200 breast final, he stood up on the block when the rest of the heat started swimming.

“After two minutes and five seconds, I came down, touched the touchpad and stopped my own time,” Prema says. “[I] asked the official, ‘what, is this a new world record?'”

You can see video of that race and protest below. The first clip shows the swimmers in the pool and Prema crouched on the block in the second lane from the top. The second half of the video shows Prema climbing down and hitting the touchpad.

Prema says meet organizers approached him after the protest, telling him that he didn’t understand the politics, and that meet organizers had been given instruction by “higher authorities” to send ten qualifiers from Uzbekistan into the Olympics. Prema claims the officials bribed him to keep his allegations quiet.

When Prema refused the bribe, he says meet organizers demanded he sign a letter saying he was “mentally unstable,” and that his actions on the blocks were not a protest, but the result of deafness that caused him to not hear the starter.

We’ve reached out to both FINA and the Uzbekistan swimming federation for comment, but have not yet received a response.

Update: The Uzbekistan Swimming Federation says there were some “glitches in the time counting software, but they were immediately and promptly fixed.”

The federation called Prema’s allegations “unfounded and unsubstantiated,” saying that the meet included athletes from Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and India, and no official representatives of those teams had any protests or complaints, and that no teams filed a protest to the meet’s chief referee.

“Regarding the videos of the swims published by Likit Prema, no amateur-made videos can be a basis for accusations of manipulating the results,” the federation told SwimSwam, claiming that the “swims featured in this video are not the swims in question in the indictment by the Indian athlete.”

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Coach Johnson
2 years ago

You can see / The brown Man out../ White advanced.
Not far.. swimming is for all to learn grow.
Give them equal Chance like the rest of the swimmers

2 years ago

Glad that I’m not an admin. ref. for the meet.

2 years ago

It’s a tough situation for the Uzbekistan Swimming Federation. Uzbekistan is not a wealthy country so the government wants to see results (e.g., Olympic athletes) in order to justify spending scarce resources on the swimming program, but the Olympic “A” standards are really tough. The Swimming World Championships is a bigger meet and can accommodate more swimmers. The Olympics have to balance excellence with inclusion.

Sam B
2 years ago

too bad swimming is decided with a stop watch, imagine how much easier it is to wrestlers and all the sports with referees where this happens regularly even AT the Olympics. In those countries, money and power can tell gravity to take a day off

Swimming Official
2 years ago

Although the timing the video is not as accurate, lack of proper visual angle, it certainly raises a lot of questions. On the 100 free times were low 51’ an in finals low 50’. For the 100 fly it was certainly a disgrace times were in the 54 range. Don’t tell me that the coach also got faster times like results?Couple things: 1) FINA must launch immediately an investigation. 2) if allegations are true, Federation officials, meet officials (at least the MR) and coaches involved should be banned for life in the sport. 3). Swimmers know that dropping all of the sudden more than 2 sec on a sprint it’s very unlikely. Swimmers owe an explanation/ affidavit whether they agree… Read more »

Last edited 2 years ago by Swimming Official
M Palota
Reply to  Swimming Official
2 years ago

Putting Tarasenko on the hot seat in the US if he’s got family back in Uzbekistan wouldn’t be the right thing to do.

2 years ago

The biggest red flag that there is, other than the time boards being shut down is their “time trials” for yusupbaev and usmunov in the 100 fly. These 2 swam apparently in the 51 highs, yet yusupbaev’s best in the 100 free is barely a 51 high itself. In the videos they clearly did in the 56-57 range, which was supposedly before the time trials and we can all agree that a 5 second time drop in one evening for a 100m is impossible. And that these two swimmers are 19 and 17 years old, their times would have been impressive at world juniors yet they could barely crack the top 30 in budapest (for yusupbaev since the other kid… Read more »

Corn Pop
2 years ago

Timurlane & The Moguls 1 . Indians 0. Yet again .

Standing on the starting blocks for 2 minutes & 5 secs is new though.

Last edited 2 years ago by Corn Pop

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

Read More »