Swimming Australia could face removal of its membership within World Aquatics due to multiple compliance issues, a source close to the situation told to SwimSwam.
Swimming Australia is in violation of multiple points within the World Aquatics Constitution, including a lack of athlete voting power on the Board, and the implementation of a Stabilization Committee, and even the expulsion of Swimming Australia’s membership within World Aquatics, would be the consequences if changes aren’t made in a timely manner.
According to the source, Swimming Australia “has a void” in the role of its athletes in decision-making positions (with a vote). The World Aquatics Constitution dictates that all 20 members of a national governing body’s Athletes Committee have one vote in Congress (Article 13.7).
Swimming Australia also fails to recognize Matthew Dunn, a three-time Olympian and multi-time short course world champion, as an ex-officio member with a voting right in their Board and at the General Assembly, the source said, which is also in violation of the World Aquatics Consitution (Article 17.2).
World Aquatics also raised concerns regarding a potential conflict of interest with two of Swimming Australia’s commercial partners, the Australian Swimmers’ Association and the Swim Coaches and Teachers Association, who are voting members of Swimming Australia.
World Aquatics has recommended that Swimming Australia broaden its membership to make it more representative and inclusive of athletes, per the source.
Swimming Australia is expected to announce Thursday that they’re calling a Special General Meeting where its members will vote on adopting a new constitution that will put them in line with the World Aquatics Consitution.
World Aquatics Constitution Article 7 (f):
to recognise in their constitution that (i) World Aquatics is the only recognized body in the world which governs Aquatics on a worldwide basis and (ii) in the case of inconsistency between the Member’s constitution and/or rules and this Constitution and/or World Aquatics Rules, the latter shall prevail;
The General Meeting is expected to occur on October 20, which would put Swimming Australia in line with the World Aquatics Constitution within the 90-day window the global governing body reportedly provided earlier this month.
If Swimming Australia’s members don’t vote on adopting the new constitution, its swimmers could potentially have to compete under a neutral flag, which was the case for both the Philippines and Kenya at the most recent World Championships, though the expectation is that the new constitution will be adopted in October.
Reports of Swimming Australia having compliance issues come on the heels of an incredibly high turnover in leadership within the organization, with Eugenie Buckley having stepped down as CEO after just 18 months earlier this year, while Leigh Russell and Alex Baumann have also served in the role since Mark Anderson stepped down in 2017.
Additionally, last November, Tracy Stockwell was removed as President of Swimming Australia after just nine months, with Michelle Gallen taking over.