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Courtesy of: RFEN
Courtesy of: RFEN
Commentary by Nate Jendrick
BARCELONA, Spain, July 28. FINA has done it again. The almighty lords of the swimming landscape have once again proven their ineptitude when it comes to keeping our sport fair and level. Common sense would dictate that if you can implement a rule to fix an obvious problem, you do so.
Unless, of course, you're FINA.
As the strange series of voting on this matter that took place proves, if the powers that be don't get what they want from its own members, they say to hell with it and do as they wish anyway. Great leadership we've got at the top, no doubt about it.
Implementing the use of underwater cameras is, in my mind, the most obvious progression of fairness in this sport. Without question. It can't be argued. Yet, somehow, FINA sees a flaw in the logic of fairness. All I want to know is, how do we get rid of these people?
Some might say, "Well it's because we can't have two sets of rules. Cameras in international meets but not local meets just won't work."
Yes it will, and there's already precedent set. At our national meet in June, for example, the top three finishers of each event were automatically drug tested, no matter what their world ranking or how fast they swam. Yet, at your local Sectionals, Champs or even challenge meet, no one gets drug tested unless a world-ranked athlete competing there is selected for random testing and a testing agent shows up. And that doesn't happen often.
Yet, still, as fans and fellow competitors we trust that athletes there will be racing clean and within the rules. We can, then, hope for and expect the same in our local meets while our biggest competitions are being even more closely watched by a few underwater cameras.
Here's what we know: We have a problem with cheating. We see it in breaststroke, in particular. We have an Olympic gold medalist--I won't use the word champion--who even admitted to it. He told the world that, even though he cheated to win, he thinks underwater cameras should be used. That's unprecedented! A cheater who actually wants his exploit to be plugged (only after the fact, of course) so others can't do it too. Seems so simple, doesn't it? A cheater tells you how he's cheating and supports the simple method to fix it. And he isn't alone in that regard.
There's an enormous crowd of well-known voices calling for this step to be taken. Breaststroke greats Brendan Hansen, Megan Jendrick, Kristy Kowal and many others all have come out and vocally supported underwater review. Dozens of governing bodies want it. The fans even want it.
So here we have a rare, rare situation in which administrators, athletes and even cheaters themselves all agree on something, and yet, a select few at FINA still say no. It's the familiar political concept: Elect some folks to represent the will of the people and once in office, they just do whatever they want, instead.
We need to impeach these people. We need to raise our voices. We have glaring holes in drug testing and we have glaring holes in rule enforcement in the pool during competition. Both can take significant steps toward being fixed if the powers that be want it to be so, and yet FINA, when given their shining opportunity, is dropping the ball not just glaringly so, but pathetically so.
At the risk of having every media credential I ever apply for in the future being mysteriously turned down, I'm still going to say this very clearly: With recent events it would appear the best way to handle FINA would be to clean out the office and start from the ground up with people who actually care about swimming.
If you couldn't tell, I'm angry. And you should be, too.