Paolo Barelli’s 2nd ‘Newsletter’: Athletes, Coaches, & FINA Governance

In his latest ‘newsletter’ detailing ways in which he would reform FINA if elected President of the organization at the Congress on July 22nd in Budapest, Paolo Barelli addresses an issue at the forefront of swimming news: athlete and coach inclusion and participation in governance.

Early Tuesday morning, Hungarian Iron Lady Katinka Hosszu announced the creation of a union of professional swimmers.  GAPS–the Global Association of Professional Swimmers–is comprised of 30 professional swimmers from around the world, including Hosszu.  Olympians all, the fledgling union boasts an impressive roster that could grow exponential at the conclusion of this month’s World Championships in Budapest.  Hosszu, who has been highly critical of FINA since the new World Cup rules were announced in May, said in an open letter “It’s not an exaggeration to say that FINA is in chaos.”

Hosszu continued, saying “There is the lack of transparency in the financials, the constantly changing rules, and leaders with no vision.  At first it may seem a bit scary, but this is the time for us, the swimmers, to do something about the future of our sport.”  Please note that Hosszu has endorsed neither Paolo Barelli nor his opponent, incumbent FINA President Julio Maglione, for the upcoming election.  However, there is common sentiment between Hosszu’s mission to reform swimming through GAPS and Barelli’s manifesto and most-recent ‘newsletter.’

In the newsletter below, Barelli, without mentioning Hosszu or GAPS, speaks on the necessity of athlete and coach participation in the governance of aquatic sports.

Important points from the newsletter include:

  • Creation of three new positions on the FINA Bureau, allowing for one male athlete, one female athlete, and one coach.
    • The new members would be elected following a process that allows for “maximum participation” and “following similar electoral procedures adopted by the International Olympic Committee when appointing the Athletes’ Commission.
  • Increase prize money for athletes at the World Championships.
  • Extend prize monies to coaches of successful athletes:
    • The share of the Prize Money for the Coaches will be commensurate to that for the Athletes and would be payable following pre-established criteria.”

The newsletter can be read in its entirety below. Emphasis are Barelli’s.

Newsletter No 2 – Athletes and Coaches within the FINA Governance

5th July 2017

My Manifesto published on 27 June in support of my candidature to the FINA Presidency stated: ‘We must recognise that, were it not for the top Athletes, the outstanding success achieved would not have been possible.  Success is accomplished by attracting viewers to the media and through spectators at FINA events being assured of watching great Athletes giving great performances’.

In my Newsletter No 1 I mentioned that “to further promote and guarantee the level aquatic disciplines have reached, we must continue to reinforce the necessary support to the Federations, the athletes and the coaches”, which are the three key pillars of our aquatic disciplines.

In my opinion, it is now time to speed up the modernisation process within the ambit of our aquatic disciplines.  This must also provide for further and deeper responsible inclusion of two categories which represent the success achieved by our sports: the Athletes and the Coaches.

I participated at two Olympic Games and I was a medalist at the World Championships.  I therefore value very strongly the importance that both Athletes and Coaches have within our aquatic family.

I also feel that the Athletes and Coaches should take a more official role in order to positively contribute to the decision making process: this precious effort must certainly be recognised as “added value” and cannot therefore be side-lined when decisions need to be taken.

The very substantial financial support provided for within my Manifesto in favour of the Federations will certainly create the basis for a stronger and more solid collaboration with the Athletes and Coaches.

With these thoughts in mind I want to take appropriate decisions on matters related to them.

A. Athletes and Coaches on the FINA Bureau

In my programme, within thirty days of my election, I will introduce a rule which will cater for two athletes, one female and one male, together with one coach to sit on the FINA Bureau, and having full rights.  

I am firmly convinced that the election of members representing thousands of athletes and coaches should be held following a clear electoral process based on maximum participation and within a set up based on democracy and transparency.

It is my intention to establish that the representatives of both Athletes and Coaches be elected as Bureau Members following similar electoral procedures adopted by the International Olympic Committee when appointing the Athletes’ Commission.  The mandate should follow the quadrennial Olympic cycle as is the case for the other Bureau Members.

B. Prize Money allocation shall not be limited to Athletes but will include Coaches

My electoral Manifesto provides for a significant financial contribution by FINA towards the activities of National Federations for International Activities and Development programmes. In this respect I stated: ‘My vision is that FINA must give all the support possible to the Federations, including economic support, in order for them to contribute further to the growth of the aquatic disciplines worldwide’.

I am ever more convinced that the financial support offered by FINA in the form of Prize Money for Athletes at the World Championships should not only be maintained but rather increased.

Moreover, I am of the opinion that the payment of Prize Money should also be extended to Coaches.  The share of the Prize Money for the Coaches will be commensurate to that for the Athletes and would be payable following pre-established criteria.

This firm wish will ensure an increased Prize Money fund is established.

As already highlighted in my Manifesto I want to give Coaches the opportunity to be part of the Panel of Experts which I intend to appoint.  This will be done in full cooperation with the FINA Bureau and the Technical Committee responsible for each discipline.

Finally, I feel that FINA must give an opportunity to all its protagonists to have their say and to give the strongest contribution possible in this regard.

Dear Athletes, dear Coaches, I want to see a new FINA which we will continue to build together and which will grow and develop into a better and stronger World of Aquatics.

Paolo Barelli


Ligue Européenne de Natation (LEN)

Italian Swimming Federation (FIN)

Candidate for the FINA Presidency

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Tom from Chicago
3 years ago

How about his position on athletes who have failed a drug test? Will he protect the innocent athletes or merely crumble to political pressure from politicians.

Do these guys think Efimova, a 2x drug cheat, should be allowed to participate in Budapest? As well as numerous others who have tested positive for PEDS?

3 years ago

Neither Barelli nor Hosszu seem, at this point, to be speaking about steps to reform or properly administer control of performance enhancing drug use/abuse. Athletes and coaches need a say in the governing of the sport of swimming. While money is a huge part of the puzzle, so to is insuring fair competition. That means guaranteeing a robust PED control program. The subject should be part of every conversation moving forward. The temptation to cheat is pervasive and if the rewards for winning are enhanced then the cheaters will be motivated to become even more creative as they seek fame, glory, gold (medals), and financial gain.

Reply to  Tigerswim22
3 years ago

Every PED is coming from a medical background . There are no Balco labs distributing clandestine networks apparently across the US or are there ? I think any stuff is just a by product of fully registered medical research institutions .

There are some amazing developments in medical science & it is a very exciting time . No doubt some under the counter by products are given to experimental subjects but mainstream products are still powerful .

An interesting study in Qld is that chronic asthma has been cured by a long term antibiotic regime just as stomach ulcers were before that . Sport has to cut the legal asthma drugs . It has to cut the para… Read more »

Reply to  Tigerswim22
3 years ago

I didn’t see any doper on Hosszu’s list, maybe it’s not a coincidence at this early stage.

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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