Cut off from government funding amid an ongoing dispute between World Aquatics and the Mexican Swimming Federation, Mexican Olympic diver Diego Balleza has turned to OnlyFans to finance his career.
OnlyFans is a subscription-based social media platform where users can buy or sell original content. Balleza, a 28-year-old Monterrey native who barely missed the podium at the Tokyo 2021 Olympics with a fourth-place finish in the men’s synchronized 10-meter platform, made his content available for about $15 a month in March. To date, he has posted more than 100 times and received more than 7,000 likes.
“It has sparked a bit of controversy, but as they say, there is no good or bad publicity,” Balleza told Reuters. “I’m a person who likes his body that has worked for 21 years. I have no shame about my figure. Fortunately, I have done well. The response has been very favorable. I have people supporting me and looking out for me.”
After World Aquatics installed a “stabilization committee” to resolve issues with Mexican Swimming Federation president Kiril Todorov, the National Commission of Physical Culture and Sport (CONADE) withdrew scholarships to aquatic athletes in January. Todorov has maintained his innocence, but now faces embezzlement charges in Mexico. World Aquatics also launched its own investigation into Todorov last month after the Court of Arbitration for Sport confirmed the global governing body’s decision to install a stabilization committee.
“I hope this situation is resolved as soon as possible as it affects us the most since we are forced to look for ways to support ourselves and our families without leaving aside our daily job, which is training,” Balleza said.
Balleza isn’t the only Mexican aquatic athlete who has been forced to get creative to fund their constant training. Olympic diver Kevin Berlin started his own coffee company. Fellow divers Alejandra Orozco and Gabriela Agundez thought about selling their Olympic medals before receiving support from a Mexican airline. Mexico’s artistic swimming team also began selling towels and swimming costumes to fund the squad’s trip to the World Championships in Egypt earlier this month, where they brought home three gold medals and a bronze.