FINA Appoints Committee to Temporarily Run Philippine Swimming Inc.

Photo Courtesy: Competitor

FINA Appoints Committee to Temporarily Run Philippine Swimming Inc.

FINA is withdrawing its recognition of Philippine Swimming Inc. (PSI) and appointing a stabilization committee to run its operations, reports the Manila Times.

FINA notified the PSI via a letter from executive director Brent Nowicki on Dec. 3. It was sent to PSI president Lani Velasco and copied to the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and Philippine Sports Commission. It has empowered the new committee, with immediate effect, to, “conduct the proper and necessary amendments of the Constitution and organize and conduct a new election.”

“The FINA Bureau discussed various complaints received by the FINA Office concerning matters of inter alia poor governance principles within your National Federation,” the FINA memo said, as reported by the Manila Times. “For this reason, and as a matter of last resort, the FINA Bureau has confirmed the implementation of a Stabilization Committee, as set out in C 10.6 of the FINA Constitution.”

The stabilization committee will consist of Wharton Chan, the POC legal head, POC deputy secretary general Valeriano Flores and Arrey Perez, the senior vice present of the Philippine government’s Bases Conversion Development Authority. FINA also sent Asian Swimming Federation Secretary General Taha Suleiman Al Kishry for a visit last month to mediate with POC and PSI officials in an attempt to avoid the stabilization committee.

That cited article in the constitution allows FINA to step in if a member, “fails to adhere to practices of good governance, transparency, financial accountability and stability, participation in FINA events, or puts at risk the organisation and development of Aquatics in their country.” The committee will expire in no more than six months, and it is tasked to act “as a reform and electoral committee.” The participation of athletes, in FINA events like the upcoming Short-Course World Championships, is not affected by the appointment of a stabilization committee.

The PSI has been accruing complaints against it. FINA issued a directive in 2018 for it to amend bylaws, but those changes haven’t been enacted. FINA reiterated that request in April after the PSI’s latest regulations. The PSI has also faced criticism from within for, per the Manila Times, “a parent whose swimmer-daughter won gold at the Hanoi Southeast Asian Games last May but was excluded from the national team to the Budapest world championships last June.” That is known to be Chloe Isleta.

The decision has been welcomed by some, among them Olympian Eric Buhain, who called it an “answered prayer” to years of dysfunction.

Buhain represented the country at the 1988 and 1992 Olympics. He’s the owner of 13 gold and 20 total medals from the Southeast Asian Games from 1985-93. A founding member of the Congress of Philippine Aquatics Inc., which organizes membership of swim clubs, he currently serves in the country’s congress.

“It has been a 20-year struggle for swimming and more importantly, the swimmers themselves, since the time [the late] Mark Joseph led and without due notice to Fina, ‘changed’ the FINA rules on unauthorized relations,” Buhain told the Manila Bulletin, calling FINA “our hero and angel.”

Buhain is hoping this move can increase inclusivity by doing away with “exorbitant fees imposed to become (a) member of PSI.””

Other Philippine sporting authorities have undergone similar administration, per POC president Abraham Tolentino. The Philippine Tennis Association remains under caretaker oversight by the POC.

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Julius de Guzman
1 month ago

One sided article. Little or no investigation done by Kishry, let alone MEDIATE.

Christoph Eichler
1 month ago

PSI with President Lani Velasco has done a very good job in the last years. But some aren’t interest in facts. It is shamefully, that the Organisation that did such enormous effords can not step on but have to battle against one sided claims. FINA wrote a letter before about the case of Chloe, that PSI handled on Fina rules. And now this is a problem???

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