Paolo Barelli Alleges UANA Leadership Aggressive towards LEN, Himself

In a recent statement sent to Union Americana de Natacion (UANA), FINA executives, and SwimSwam, LEN and Italian Swimming Federation President Paolo Barelli reiterated claims that members of the FINA Bureau are unfit to maintain their posts within swimming’s largest governing body.

Earlier this month Barelli went to the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) to challenge FINA First Vice President Husain Al-Musallam (Kuwait) on a conflict-of-interest case stemming from  Al-Musallam’s alleged involvement in a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into FIFA corruption.  Barelli also claims that FINA Vice President Dale Neuburger (USA) represents a conflict-of-interest, being both a high-ranking FINA official and the North American Director of TSE Consulting, a company that has worked with FINA, the USOC, among other national governing bodies of sport in the past.

In the letter below, Barelli alleges that Neuburger, vis-a-vis TSE, attempted to influence the outcome of the 2016 LEN election. Though Barelli was re-elected as the President of LEN by a wide margin, TSE was appointed to orchestrate the campaign of his challenger, Erik Van Heijningen of the Royal Dutch Swimming Federation (KNZB).

Please note Mr. Barelli’s letter is very long and deals with numerous topics, not all of which have been analyzed here.  We will publish a follow-up article shortly, analyzing the second half of the report, including the intertwining politics of FINA and other major sporting organizations, and FINA President Julio C. Maglione‘s track record at the helm of FINA.

SwimSwam has also reached out to Dale Neuburger concerning the CAS hearing which called into question Neuburger’s ability to remain neutral while working as a high-ranking official on the FINA Bureau while also earning a living working at TSE.  Mr. Neuburger has expressed a willingness to speak with us, though an interview has not yet taken place.

“Dear UANA Members, dear friends,

I know that in these coming days you will be in Trinidad & Tobago for the Central American and Caribbean Amateur Swimming Confederation Congress.

A number of representatives from other American areas will be attending this meeting. This would have been a great opportunity for the undersigned to be present and explain my position with regards to the forthcoming FINA Congress to be held on 22 July in Budapest.

The relationship with the UANA members has always been excellent and inspired by a true sense of collaboration. The CCCAN Congress would also have served as a perfect opportunity to inform you about the problems I feel have negatively affected the relationship with the UANA leadership.

Let me start by referring to the interference and aggression towards a FINA European organisation (LEN) and its representatives (amongst which the undersigned) by UANA President, Mr. Dale Neuburger, during the LEN elections of 2016.

In more detail, you can find attached the Linkedin profile of Mr. Neuburger wherein such interference (1) is very obvious. Interference carried out in his multiple functions as FINA Vice President, UANA President and Director of TSE Consulting (an agency specialised in sport and a commercial partner of FINA).

Don’t you feel Dale Neuburger should explain and justify his position considering the clear manifestation of interference and conflict of interest in respect of LEN?

Were you in any way informed about this matter with regards to the hostile action taken by the UANA President seeing his involvement in orchestrating electoral activities within another continent?

Was such hostile action from the UANA President the result of ‘professional or personal’ interests or is this to be seen within a broader plan of a FINA takeover by someone with such intentions?

To answer and better understand the above it is important that you are also made aware of the overall negative feeling related to the FINA leadership of Asia.

Around the world, and in Europe in particular, many know that the FINA First Vice President representing Asia, Husain Al Musallam, the right hand man of Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, an important IOC Member amongst other positions he holds, has also blatantly interfered in the LEN elections of 2016. This was formally confirmed by a number of European national federations.

Furthermore, such unacceptable interference has also continued with the attempt promoted by Husain Al Musallam (but not only him) to force the election at large for the FINA Bureau of two members for Europe, in contrast with those already indicated and agreed by LEN. If such unjustified interference is successful it would exclude Fernando Carpena (ESP) and Christa Thiel (GER) from the FINA Bureau, despite them being the two members already indicated at large by LEN.

These interferences, together with the one quoted above involving the President of UANA, could only have been intended as an attempt to achieve the short term leadership of FINA.

The only true interest here would be the control of FINA as it represents a large political and economic power in the world of sport.

The first step was to make Mr Julio Maglione appear of secondary importance and, subsequently, for Husain Al Musallam to take over his position.

However, in order to hasten this pitiful strategy it was necessary to ‘conquer’ Europe in order to count on its’ support. Together with so many others within the Aquatic Family, I would never allow anyone to take control of FINA using such methods.

Sadly though, there is even more. I am sure you are all very much aware of the recent scandals linked to FIFA. In brief, on the 27 April of this year the United States Attorney filed charges against USA citizen Richard Lai with regards to receiving bribes amounting to approx. USD 1 Million, as can be seen by checking Case No F.2017R00745 in the records of the U.S. District Court E.D.N.Y. Brooklyn Office.

 As a result of the serious facts ascertained, a number of newspapers and press agencies, including the London Times with a headline stating “Senior swimming executive implicated in FIFA bribery scandal” and Sportcal website, identified Husain Al Musallam and Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah as being co-conspirators No 3 and No 2 respectively. These actions are considered to be criminal by the US Department of Justice and perpetuated in an attempt to gain control of the world’s Soccer governing body FIFA.

 Of course the relevant authorities will carry out their due investigations but it is rather evident that such situations give rise to serious concerns within FINA.

 If I was present at your Congress I would ask Mr Julio Maglione why he has allowed such a state of affairs to arise without reacting in any way. Why has he not taken action in the way someone with common sense would obviously do? Why is he not acting as the Paterfamilias one would expect him to in order to protect the image of FINA and defend those who have constantly demonstrated correctness and commitment towards a clean FINA.

 The occasion would also have served to set out clearly the unpleasant situation which the FINA family is experiencing. President Maglione is undoubtedly responsible for what is happening in terms of lack of good governance and for allowing internal interferences, divisions and splits within FINA without intervening in any way.

 What I have described above are only some of the points which have received no valid explanations from the FINA leadership in the past two years. These and other matters have given rise to discontent and a substantial number of people have approached me and asked me to contest for the Presidency of FINA in order to promote a change of direction which would guarantee a better future based on good governance and total transparency.  

It is truly regrettable I cannot be at your Congress but rest assured I am at your full disposal to meet with you any time to discuss my positions and vision for the future.

 You will soon receive the electoral Manifesto which looks ahead to the future and outlines a number of initiatives that aim at guaranteeing the wealth and growth of our Aquatic Family. This will be done in full compliance with the rules of mutual respect, correctness and transparency.

 With kind regards,

Paolo Barelli


Ligue Européenne de Natation (LEN)

Federazione Italiana Nuoto (FIN)”

1.) SwimSwam did not think it necessary to publish the picture submitted of a screenshot of Mr. Neuburger’s LinkedIn profile, which portrayed a post with a link to an article published by last February.  Instead, a link to the referenced article can be found here.

Next month at the FINA Congress, held on the eve of the swimming portion (July 22nd) of the FINA World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, FINA will vote whether to re-elect current-President Julio C. Maglione (Uruguay) for a third-consecutive-term, despite having ‘aged-out‘ of the job, or to elect Mr. Barelli as President, a position that either man would hold until 2021.

Earlier this month, Mr. Barelli spoke with SwimSwam to share his vision for the future of FINA and aquatic development around the world.  Mr. Barelli has also sent us his manifesto for the next four years, should he win the FINA Presidency, which will be published shortly.

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3 years ago

Dale Neuburger has had a huge conflict of interest for the longest time and there is no defense for it.

3 years ago

And USA Swimming should not be supporting Maglione. Too much corruption and USA Swimming needs to stop endorsing it.

Tom from Chicago
3 years ago

This looks like it would be a step in the right direction. You can’t have some like Neuberger actually influencing from the inside. You are either a lobbyist or a legislator; not both.

I hope the high confidence placed in Barelli by the Europeans bodes well for actual PED testing and enforcement. Swimming really needs a zero tolerance policy. Too many tainted swimmers hurting innocent athletes.

About Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson originally hails from Clay Center, Kansas, where he began swimming at age six.  At age 14 he began swimming club year-round and later with his high school team, making state all four years.  He was fortunate enough to draw the attention of Kalamazoo College where he went on to …

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