Concerns over the ethical conduct of FINA vice president Zhou Jihong have been further raised after a whistleblower issued a follow-up complaint to the international governing body over the alleged actions that go far beyond the initial incident.
Back in February, we reported how Diving New Zealand issued a complaint on behalf of official Lisa Wright against Zhou shortly after the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in September 2021, claiming Zhou verbally abused her after the conclusion of the men’s platform diving final in Tokyo.
The FINA Ethics Panel ultimately concluded that there wasn’t enough evidence to sustain the complaints made by Wright and Diving New Zealand, and that due to the “unfortunate” nature of the incident, it’s likely that Zhou and Wright have different impressions of what transpired.
Zhou was required to issue a formal apology to Wright, which she accepted, and the panel recommended the position held by Zhou during the event, Bureau Liaison Person, be removed to mitigate confusion.
After the initial complaint was filed, a whistleblower stepped forward and issued a lengthy complaint against Zhou. The report was submitted by former New Zealand diver Simon Latimer, who is now a member of the FINA Diving Technical Committee.
Latimer’s claims include that Zhou has used her power to try and manipulate diving results, and her alleged abuse of Wright was in relation to her not scoring the two Chinese divers high enough (despite the fact they went 1-2 in the event).
Independent FINA evaluator scores showed they agreed with Wright’s scoring of the Chinese divers despite Zhou’s claims.
Latimer alleges that Zhou approached him early on in the Olympic diving competition, during an event in which he was the referee, and asked him why Wright had given “competitors to China” high scores.
“I got the impression she was hoping that I would speak to Lisa about her scoring of the Chinese divers and potentially pressure her into increasing her awards,” Latimer wrote.
The claims also note that Zhou coached Chinese divers throughout the diving competition in Tokyo while holding her position as FINA Vice President and Diving Bureau Liasion. Latimer says that Zhou has been “regularly observed” coaching at other major FINA diving events, and that having a “senior FINA official coaching surreptitiously on poolside at major diving events is inappropriate and incites allegations of collusion.”
Latimer claims that Zhou engages in bullying tactics towards judges who she believes don’t reward the Chinese divers with the scores she expects, and that she uses her power to manipulate the panels and pick and choose the judges who are officiating the critical stages of the competition.
FINA finally published the original Ethics Panel decision in early April, over four months after it was completed.
While FINA’s only disciplinary moves in the wake of the Diving New Zealand complaint made on Wright’s behalf was for Zhou to issue a formal apology and the request to remove the Bureau Liasion Person position, the organization has yet to make a move regarding Latimer’s claims.
FINA reportedly told Kiwi outlet Stuff that Zhou can’t be investigated for the same complaint twice, garnering Latimer’s allegations moot.
Zhou, 57, was China’s first-ever Olympic gold medalist in diving, having won the 1984 title in the women’s platform event. She was voted as one of FINA’s five vice presidents in June at the FINA General Congress 2021 in Doha, Qatar.
The FINA Ethics Panel was formed in 2017, and the members for the 2021-2025 term were elected at the General Congress in June.