Multiple senior staff members were fired by FINA over the last number of days, with the employees given no notice and asked to leave their offices immediately.
A lawyer showed up at the FINA headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland on Monday and told deputy director and head of the sports department Marcela Saxlund and events & project manager Pavel Medvedev, who are also a married couple, that their employment was terminated and asked them to leave the office, according to a source.
The same situation occurred on Tuesday to Pedro Adrega, the head of FINA’s communications department, and Irene Romero, who worked in the legal department.
The four employees have combined for more than 70 years of experience working at FINA. Saxlund has been working with FINA for 28 years, Adrega for 22, Medvedev for 12, and Romero for nine.
The firings were made “without real explanation and reasoning, without any discussion.”
According to an anonymous source, the sackings are due to the staff members being too close to FINA’s former leadership group, namely former Executive Director Cornel Marculescu, who resigned from his position in March after 35 years.
However, it’s worth noting that it’s not uncommon for new directors at sporting organizations to bring in their own senior-level staff.
The organization has undergone a myriad of changes at the top recently, with the 2021 FINA General Congress electing a new president and several FINA Bureau members on June 5. Kuwaiti Husain Al-Musallam was officially elected as FINA’s new president and American lawyer Brent Nowicki was named Executive Director.
“Those who were kicked out were those who were close to Mr. Marculescu,” the source said. “From one moment to another you are considered nobody by the new president and the new executive director who does whatever the president says.
“We know that even most of the FINA Bureau members are not aware of the many changes and decisions being made within FINA.”
A representative from FINA has since confirmed the terminations, but won’t be offering any further comment.
Susana Saxlund, the sister of Marcela, was also dismissed by FINA and is no longer a service provider with the organization.
Saxlund represented Uruguay as a swimmer at the 1972 Summer Olympics, and worked directly with former FINA President Dr. Julio Maglione as a personal assistant of sorts with the Uruguayan Olympic Committee for the last 30 years.
“The ‘old’ staff knows too much and the president wants to erase the past as if it does not exist,” the source added.
Al-Musallam took over the presidency from Maglione, who held office from 2009 until 2021, while Nowicki succeeded Marculescu. Saxlund was named interim Executive Director after Marculescu’s departure.