Uzbek administrators Javodilla Khasanov and Sherzod Inogamov were given five-year suspensions by World Aquatics last January for falsifying Tokyo 2021 Olympic qualifying times.
The global governing body’s Ethics Panel concluded its investigation in December of 2021 after Indian swimmer Likith Prema called out meet officials at the 2021 Uzbekistan Open of manipulating results to help swimmers achieve Olympic qualifying times. At the time, the Uzbekistan Swimming Federation called the allegations “unfounded and unsubstantiated,” and Prema said he was forced to apologize in person to his federation official for “taking such a direct approach.” But a few months later, World Aquatics (then FINA) agreed with Prema and invalidated all times from the meet.
Perhaps the most blatant example of cheating was Eldorbek Usmonov’s 100-meter butterfly time of 51.83, which was almost 13 seconds faster than his fastest time on record (1:04.60). He had no official results in the event from 2020 or 2021.
“To put this result into perspective, with 51.83, Mr. Usmonov would be within the top 10 athletes of the world in this discipline, taking the last FINA World Championships (2019) as a reference,” the Ethics Panel wrote. “Without meaning any disrespect to Mr. Usmonov, the Ethics Panel considered this to be highly unlikely.
“Moreover, after having considered all the circumstances of the case, the Ethics Panel is of the view that these results have not been caused by an unintentional mistake but rather by a deliberate manipulation of the results. The fact that the events took place in Uzbekistan, that the results allowed only Uzbek athletes to participate in the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games, and that the scoreboard was shut down during Event 2, all comforted the Ethics Panel in reaching this conclusion.”
Neither Khasanov nor Inogamov denied their involvement in the scandal, according to the Ethics Panel. Their suspensions are effective from the ruling on January 14, 2022, meaning they will be eligible to return to aquatics-related activities in January of 2027. Swiss chairman Jean Gay was in charge of the review panel along with members Rashid Alanezi (KUW) and Abdon Deguenon (BEN). You can read the entire breakdown of their ruling here.
Meanwhile, Prema said the Uzbekistan incident actually paved the way for him to receive a full-ride Division II scholarship to the University of Indianapolis as a graduate student last season.
“Right now things have subsided and I’m looking forward to a strong year ahead,” Prema said.