John Leonard Open Letter To FINA Coaches Commission: Get Out

ASCA head John Leonard has written another open letter, this time calling for members of FINA’s Coaches Commission to leave their posts.

Leonard has been an outspoken critic of the international swimming federation, and has previously written open letters detailing his conflicts with FINA. He’s the executive director of the American Swimming Coaches Association, as well as a founder of the World Swimming Association (formerly the World Swimming Organization), which would serve as a rival to FINA as the international governing body for the sport of swimming.

In this letter, Leonard directly addresses members of FINA’s Coaches Commission, pointing to others who have resigned from the commission and asking remaining members “why are you still there?”. You can read the full letter, published without edit, below:


“Open Letter to  My Colleagues.” 


Dear Friends,

As coaches, typically you go to work every day, come up with new ideas, consult with those around you and….amazingly, something actually HAPPENS to improve the lives of the athletes you work with!

Now you’ve served on the FINA Coaches Commission for awhile, where you all have learned that NOTHING EVER HAPPENS!

Prompted by the courage and intelligence of Jacco to resign from the coaches commission, the courage of the two best members of the FINA anti-doping commission (last summer) to RESIGN, and the courage of Craig Lord to RESIGN  from the equally impotent FINA MEDIA Commission, I am prompted to ask…WHY ARE YOU STILL THERE?

I speak from experience. I served two full terms on the Coaches Commission, plus experienced it from the outside while my mentor Peter Daland was the first chair, and another term outside, where I served FINA as the “Education Consultant”. In NONE of that time was anything ever actually accomplished, though I enjoyed some fine meals and met some fine coaches like yourselves.

Your continued presence on the FINA COACHES COMMISSION is a buttressing of a BROKEN INSTITUTION with no intent to ever do anything to enhance the lives of anyone but their own Bureau. No help to athletes, no help to coaches, just self-interest. And your serving on the group, allows FINA to say “see, we include coaches!” (yes, for dinner in a secondary sort of way….but NOT FOR DECISIONS or ACTION.)

Each of us must act on our own conscience. But I ask again “WHY ARE YOU STILL THERE?”

I ask this as a friend to every coach, everywhere. You are serving as a stooge and tool of an evil empire. Get out is my best advice. Hasten the rebuild of FINA in a better way. Support the rights of athletes and coaches everywhere.

John Leonard

AMERICAN Swimming Coaches Association.


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7 years ago

Yes, because John Leonard gets stuff done. Still waiting on the release of that scientific review of USRPT that will prove it’s all bunk and vindicate Leonard. Y’know, the one that cost thousands of dollars in ASCA membership dues.

7 years ago

While I agree w/ people who complain about this as a publicity stunt, it is also hard to argue with what he is saying. If you’ve been involved with FINA at almost any level you’ve likely seen this. Very frustrating.

Reply to  Francene
7 years ago

Absolutely. It’s not that he’s wrong, it’s just that the claim that he has any kind of moral high ground is laughable.

Reply to  Francene
7 years ago

I can’t speak for swimswam, but as an old Olympian who has lived through a lot of swim history, we expect our leaders to reflect the base’s frustration and outrage. John’s done that very consistently across a lot of topics, but mainly a topic most of us agree on–doping, striving to maintain a clean sport and fair play. He’s genuinely angry about this. That’s irrefutable. While most of us get frustrated when yet another doping scandal surfaces, the emotion subsides and we go back to our lives. John thinks about this daily, believes this is the single most important issue in swimming today.

The TOPIC of ASCA: I’m not a coach, but I attend ASCA and receive the coaching… Read more »

7 years ago

What a joke. I don’t think any of us are huge FINA fans but this is just a publicity stunt.

7 years ago

Coming from the guy who wants you to join ASCA for $60 a year to provide you with absolutely nothing.

What a clown.

Reply to  Swimmmer
7 years ago

I can’t up vote this enough. It should be titled: “from one ding dong, to the next”

Reply to  Swimmmer
7 years ago

Also, the guy who gets himself a seat directly behind lane 4 at Trials so he can be seen on camera as much as possible, expensed from ASCA on the same annual dues.

Reply to  Swimmmer
7 years ago

No you get re-cycled transcripts of undated talks without any context inter-mixed with a medley of other stuff that we’ve all seen ages ago. It’s worse then nothing. Save the postage and paper and stop sending them out.

Reply to  Swimmmer
7 years ago

Why do PEOPLE YELL so much on THEIR letters.