Italy’s Paolo Barelli Re-Elected as President of LEN

Italian federation head Paolo Barelli has been re-elected as the president of the Ligue Européenne de Natation (LEN) – the governing body of aquatic sports on the continent of Europe.

He won the election by a margin of 77-27 over Dutchman Erik van Heijingen.

In other results of the elections, David Sparkes was elected General Secretary and Tamas Gyarfas was elected treasurer, with both running unopposed. LEN Bureau members, vic-presidents, and FINA Bureau candidates are still to be elected.

This will be a second-consecutive four-year term for Barelli. During his last term, in 2014, he was brought up on fraud allegations with relation to the country’s hosting of the 2009 World Championships. It was claimed at the time that the Italian Olympic Committee gave $1 million toward the organization of those World Championships in Rome that were unaccounted for.

At the leveling of the accusations, Barelli said ”If the fraud charge is proved, I will resign immediately, as will my executive committee.” He also added that if it is not true, “someone must pay the consequences.”

No action ever pressed forward on the charges.

Barelli, a 61-year old Italian senator from Rome, competed at the 1972 and 1976 Olympic Games, and has a bronze medal from the 1975 World Championships as part of Italy’s 400 free relay.

He won ahead of the Dutch lawyer van Heijingen who operated on a plan of installing good-governance policies across LEN’s federations, instituting a “whistleblowers” line, and improvements to out-of-competition drug testing. Van Heijningen served on the FINA Doping Panel from 2009-2013.

LEN elections are generally done by an open ballot, unless in a contested election where a minimum of 30 member federations support it. LEN did not announce if this ballot was open or secret. The voting is done by the LEN Congress rather than the full membership of the various federations.

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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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