Note: None of the claims made by Jean-François Salessy and Hubert Montcoudiol have been independently investigated by SwimSwam. This article will be updated as SwimSwam gets more information.
Jean-François Salessy, the ex-general manager of Energy Standard, and Hubert Montcoudiol, the ex-commercial director of the International Swimming League, have accused ISL of financial mismanagement in a letter sent to SwimSwam.
The pair resigned from their positions with the league in November 2020. In an open letter at the time, Salessy heavily criticized ISL founder Konstantin Grigorishin for his approach in running the league.
In the latest letter, Salessy and Montcoudiol wrote that ISL has allegedly neglected to properly pay supporting vendors and people, like press officials, webmasters, team managers, and even some elite swimmers. Salessy and Montcoudiol did not name anyone specifically that has been victim to the alleged practices, but they wrote that what they have witnessed directly contradicts ISL’s promise to honor all obligations to suppliers ahead of season three.
One ISL athlete told SwimSwam that they were told they would receive their final season two payment on Friday.
The ISL did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“As of September 17, 2021, seven matches into ISL Season 3, the situation remains the same: bills remain unpaid!” Salessy and Montcoudiol wrote in the letter. “This latest season has been organized in spite of ongoing issues with creditors. The ISL’s unprofessional behavior towards multiple vendors, ongoing since the inaugural Season 1 in 2019, has yet to be resolved.”
Salessy and Montcoudiol also attributed their resignations at least in part to ISL’s alleged financial mismanagement.
When Salessy resigned just ahead of Energy Standard’s trip to the season finals, he also accused ISL founder Konstantin Grigorishin of only bringing him on as GM because he was team star Florent Manaudou’s agent. He went on to criticize Grigorishin’s methods of running the ISL, including the setup of the league that keeps salary structure private and that the supporting staff of the ISL, including GMs, are treated as secondary to swimmers and their coaches.
ISL commented on that open letter by highlighting its ability to operate during a pandemic, and choosing not to comment on that “interpretation of a past collaboration.”
The league also released a statement in 2020 that it has faced financial challenges, but that it wanted to move on despite said challenges. At that time, SwimSwam reported that multiple season one vendors hadn’t been paid their full amount owed, but the league vowed to pay all money owed before Season 3. The league also added that it was working for the greater good of the sport.
“The work has not been easy,” ISL said at the time. “For the first two seasons, we have been mostly focused on showcasing athlete talent and our product to the widest audience possible. We had hoped for meaningful revenues to come in but alongside the impact of the pandemic our commercial operations have also failed significantly with most projections not materialising. The way we approach the market will need to be different going forward.”
In the most recent letter, Salessy and Montcoudiol wrote that the ISL does not respect its promises, and that payments are made on an “arbitrary basis.”
“The swimming ecosystem doesn’t need to be weakened any further,” they wrote.
You can read the full letter from Salessy and Montcoudiol below. The letter was sent in English, and it is displayed in an unedited form here.
ISL : Nothing’s changed…
Last November, we resigned of our position of Head Commercial ISL and General Manager
Energy Standard, by denouncing the lightness of ISL’s practices towards its suppliers and
The International Swimming League (ISL) issued a statement on the eve of its Grand Final on
November 21st, 2020 stating:
“Our head-down approach to deliver Season 2020 may have caused friction with some
suppliers but we will honor all obligations before planning starts for Season3.”
As of September 17, 2021, seven matches into ISL Season 3, the situation remains the same:
bills remain unpaid!
This latest season has been organized in spite of ongoing issues with creditors. The ISL’s
unprofessional behavior towards multiple vendors, ongoing since the inaugural Season 1 in
2019, has yet to be resolved.
Elite swimmers, but not all, some audiovisual production partners, and other essential
vendors are paid on an arbitrary basis when others are not.
The list of victims of such behaviors includes some Hungarian vendors, a communication
agency, press officials, travel agencies, team managers, operational directors, webmasters,
digital agency specialists, and other consultants.
These entities performed professional services that helped the ISL develop through its first
two season but are they still waiting for their money which, taken together, adds up to a
Businesses, as well as sole proprietors, have been put in financial difficulties with no payment,
and they are left carrying the ISL dream on their shoulders in a way that is unacceptable.
The lack of Media coverage and broadcasters during this season 3, on top of a lack of
confidence coming from sponsors, sound obvious in such conditions.
It is clear that the ISL Founder, CEO and management team do not respect their
promises. They hide themselves by arguing that “contracts aren’t in place”, that “we
recognize there are issues” or that “we’re surprised to hear there are issues” and that
“we are actively working to resolve” issues…
The swimming ecosystem doesn’t need to be weakened any further.
Generating hopes and then disappointing them is terrible
Jean-François Salessy – Ex General Manager Energy Standard Paris
Hubert Montcoudiol – Ex Commercial Director ISL