Tunisian President Dissolves Board of Swimming Federation Over Flag Dispute

Tunisian anti-doping authorities’ dispute with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has spiraled into a political battle between Tunisia’s president and the national swimming federation.

Last month, WADA announced sanctions for Tunisia’s Agence nationale antidopage (ANAD) that included banning the Tunisian flag from flying at major events until the organization corrects its non-conformities. So last week, the Tunisian flag was covered with a red cloth at the Tunisian Open Masters Championship at the Rades Olympic Pool in Tunis.

Tunisian president Kais Saied interpreted the move as “an act of aggression” rather than following the rules of WADA’s punishment. WADA’s sanctions specify that the flag “will not be flown at regional, continental or world championships, as well as other events organized by Major Event Organizations (including the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games), until ANAD is reinstated.”

“Tunisia comes before the Olympic Committee and before any other committees,” said Saied, who personally visited the Rades Olympic Pool on Friday night to raise the flag and sing the national anthem.

On Saied’s orders, the Tunisian youth and sports ministry dismissed the entire Tunisian Swimming Federation board along with the ANAD chief to send a clear message about hiding the national flag.

Human rights groups claim that Tunisia has descended into a dictatorship since Saied took over in a 2021 coup. Last year, Tunisia’s main opposition leader was arrested and imprisoned.

Tunisian authorities have reportedly introduced reforms meant to bring the country back into compliance with global anti-doping regulations, but WADA has yet to lift its sanctions. ANAD was publicly warned late last year with its addition to WADA’s compliance watchlist “due to a failure to appropriately implement the WADA Code into its national legal framework.”

It’s been a tough week for Tunisian swimming as reigning 400 freestyle Olympic champion Ahmed Hafnaoui revealed he might miss the Paris Olympics this summer due to an unspecified injury.

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1 month ago

Given this state of affairs, doesn’t it follow that Tunisian swimmers won’t be allowed to compete in Paris? WADA won’t allow them to fly the flag and president won’t let them swim without the flag, no? Wonder if this brewing situation has anything to do with Hafnoui’s “injury.”

1 month ago

How ironic, that organizations so dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion; and a collected fandom so bent on hyping social dominance have come to the point of secluding the very objects that presumably drew them together in the first place.

In all my years, I never saw a flag beat a swimmer to the touch pad; nor was I aware of what a swimmer had on his mind, while breaking barriers. That dedicated swimmer probably knew nothing of my existence, let alone who his local “representative” was.

The anxiety pulled from thin air is simply silly, and predictable. As troubling as this might seem, gifted athletes are not pieces on a board game, and they don’t compete for your self-esteem.… Read more »

Reply to  Dave
1 month ago

I think you’re trying to mash together a connection that isn’t there.

Reply to  Braden Keith
1 month ago

“On Saied’s orders, the Tunisian youth and sports ministry dismissed the entire Tunisian Swimming Federation board along with the ANAD chief to send a clear message about hiding the national flag.”

Your right, this is certainly in the best interests of the sport. I can see that now.

Greg P
Reply to  Dave
1 month ago

I’m probably stupid, I don’t understand your paragraphs.

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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