Konstantin Grigorishin, the head of both the Energy Standard Group and the International Swimming League (ISL), sent a letter to athletes today, harshly criticizing FINA for what he called “self-serving tactics” and promising to use “all legal means available” after what he termed as a postponement of the Energy for Swim meet.
The Italian Federation announced this morning that the Energy for Swim event had been cancelled after negotiations with FINA broke down. Meet organizers stood by the wording of “postponement,” suggesting that the meet could be rescheduled down the road.
The meet was a battle in an ongoing power struggle between FINA and the ISL, which we’ve covered in-depth over the past few weeks. You can get the full context in the links below, but the high-level recap is that the ISL tried to launch a December meet they said was built around spectator engagement and athlete compensation, but FINA made clear it wouldn’t recognize any ISL-organized event. The ISL passed the meet off to the Italian federation, which they believed complied with FINA rules, though the meet was still funded and organized by Grigorishin’s Energy Standard Group. In October, FINA voted to approve a new rule interpretation that classified the meet as international and in need of prior FINA approval, but by that time, meet organizers didn’t have the required six-month window to get the meet approved by FINA. Meet organizers have characterized that move by FINA as an attempt to “destroy” the ISL format, something Grigorishin echoed in his letter.
- FINA rule interpretation could outlaw Energy for Swim meet
- Athletes could face 1-to-2-year bans if Energy for Swim isn’t approved
- ISL: FINA delaying agreement ‘because they know time is critical’
- Law expert’s paper suggests FINA bans won’t hold up legally
- FINA-Italy letters shed light on timeline of energy for swim struggle
Grigorishin’s letter confirms that the Energy Standard Group will uphold its promise to pay athletes 50% of their appearance money, something the meet promised in the event of a cancellation. He characterized FINA’s behavior as “unjustified continued attacks on ISL and the Italian Swimming Federation” and said the international federation had an “unwillingness to engage in meaningful dialogue.”
“What has become evident over the past few weeks is that Fina has embarked on a sustained program of selfserving tactics to try to destroy our efforts to create a new global competitive league,” Grigorishin writes. “We note in this connection that approach taken by FINA violates European Union and American untitrust [sic] and unfair competition laws, and we will use all the legal means available to protect our interests, the interests of athletes and the sport of swimming in general.”
We’ve asked FINA for comment on the ongoing conflict with the ISL, the classification of the Energy for Swim meet and the possibility of legal retribution from meet organizers, but have so far received no response to any of our requests.