Adam Peaty Calls FINA’s New Code of Conduct ‘Meaningless’; Freedom of Speech Will Rule


World Championships, Gwangju (Adam Peaty)

Adam Peaty has hit back at FINA’s “meaningless” imposition of an emergency Code of Conduct rule designed to gag swimmers and make them toe the line in the face of silent podium protests from teammate Duncan Scott and Australia’s Mack Horton over the presence of China’s Sun Yang at the World Championships in Gwangju.

The 24-year-old Olympic champion, fresh from taking his tally of world breaststroke titles to a record six with a dominant 26.06 victory in the 50m, said that any threats from FINA no longer had any power over athletes, who had “a right to freedom of speech” and were in the process of forming a union-style body that would “bring checkmate” to swim bosses if they refused to act on doping, clean sport and other matters that affect athlete  welfare.

The power of Peaty was also on display in the pool. His 50m win completed a set of historic doubles: the 50m and 100m titles in 2015, 2017 and now 2019. He was then joined by Georgia Davies, James Guy and Freya Anderson for British bronze in the 4x100m mixed medley behind victorious Australia and the United States. Peaty has the 4x100m medley to come on the last day of racing, on Sunday.

He would rather focus only on that, he said, but would not shy away from giving his views on FINA’s latest moves to prevent athlete protest: “That’s why athletes need representatives because we’re here to swim and we’re not going to get involved in a [discussion on a] code of conduct. It ain’t gonna change anything. Athletes are always entitled to freedom of speech and when we detect that something is wrong and there’s cheating, then why shouldn’t we have a voice?”

Last year, Peaty was one of more than 20 Olympic and world champions to defy the threat of a FINA ban that could have put them out of the Olympic Games if they signed up for action in the new Pro-Team series being staged from October by the International Swimming League (ISL).

Asked what more athletes could do in the face of a hastily cobbled-together addition to FINA conduct rules demanding that athletes “strictly avoid any offensive or improper behaviour towards the officials, the other competitors, the team members and/or spectators during the entire conduct of the competition”, Peaty said: “Come together, get leverage for us.”

Horton received death threats from social media trolls in China after his protest against Sun, while Peaty noted the challenge beyond “my job of swimming” when he revealed that he had been bombarded by “a million Chinese BOTS saying your mum’s a horrible word … it really doesn’t affect me at all.”

When Horton, after the 400m freestyle, and then Scott, after the 200m freestyle, refusing to pose for photographs with the Chinese champion, Sun screamed “you loser” in the British ace’s face. All three received warnings from FINA for “bringing the sport and/or FINA into disrepute”.

Since March, Sun has faced a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) challenge at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) into a FINA decision to let him off with a warning after an altercation with testing officials last year that ended in no urine being collected and a vial of Sun’s blood being slammed by a hammer by a security guard under instruction from the swimmer’s mother.

FINA could have requested an expedited CAS process to have the matter resolved before the World Championships but no parties to the case had done that, according to the court.

FINA executives were much faster at issuing a new “Article 3“, headed “Rules of Conduct During the Competition”.

Peaty shrugged. “It’s free speech. I don’t think anyone should get a warning for exercising their right to free speech. Any doping in the sport is a straight no from me.”

Peaty pointed to the case of Gabriel Santos, a Brazilian sprinter who tested positive for a steroid earlier this year, was suspended and sent home from Gwangju and was unable to race at the championships pending an appeal.

“That’s how it should be,” said Peaty. “That’s the hard line we have. There shouldn’t even be a question of breaking vials or anything like it. He [Sun Yang] should have been out straight away.”

A union-style athletes’ body was being formed for the future fight, Peaty noted. “That is coming in next few months if not next year because we’re in the process of setting it up. We’re going to take our time with it and get it right and then we can start to put our checkmate on the board.”


    • Troy FG

      Chels Babec legend

  1. avatar
    Caroline Peaty

    Well said. There is no middle line where doping is concerned. So proud of Duncan and Matt for standing up for a clean sport at the detriment of standing on the world podium.
    I’m also so proud of Adam for staying true to himself, standing up against an organisation that condones doping from their ‘favourite’ athletes .

    • avatar

      Extremely proud of all the athletes uniting to take a stand for what is right! True role models for young athletes!

  2. Sue Arrowsmith

    If FINA can act that quickly to gag athletes why can’t they act quickly to bring their rules into line with the legal requirements of competition law? Gagging seems to be the favoured route now that athletes are starting to speak out. Masters in England have been subject to a case-specific gagging order over a verdict of intimidation by the former Swim England Sport Board chair (even though such rulings are normally public) (an incident that occurred when we scheduled session on governance failings at our conference which the Swim England CEO vetoed). And I quote from the Swim England Masters Facebook page: “Posts or comments which could be considered as being or potentially being overly negative towards Swim England will be removed.”

    • Andrew Webber

      Sue Arrowsmith we’re in the age of Trump and Boris, this is normal now. Doesn’t mean it’s right, but weak minded idiots will think it’s acceptable

    • Sue Arrowsmith

      Andrew Webber I think we’ve always been in that age where our swimming feds are concerned.

    • Andrew Webber

      Sue Arrowsmith true, been a long time since fina have done something good

  3. avatar

    If FINA can act that quickly to gag athletes how come they can’t also act quickly to bring their rules into line with the legal requirements of ant-trust/competition law?

  4. avatar
    Chris Kimber

    Is it possible for FINA to bring a charge of bringing FINA into disrepute over their handling of the drug cheats?

  5. avatar
    David Abineri

    Why does FINA continue to invite criticism of themselves when their job is to represent the needs of swimmers worldwide. They rush to allow the, now illegal, suits into use without sufficient testing and review and now they allow swimmers still under review for drug use to compete as if nothing were happening? It seems to me that all cases that might render any swimmer as banned should be completed by say, 2 months, prior to any competition so that such controversies can be avoided. Fina is not doing very well at governing our sport!

  6. Rodney Marks

    FINA just appear to be pushing a self destruct button. Hopefully it will all implode soon.

  7. Lorraine Marshall

    So if a British swimmer is not where they say they will be during a three month period they get banned for testing positive when no test has taken place. They are just not where they said they would be. But a swimmer refuses to give a urine sample and deliberately smash a blood sample, not only that behave totally unacceptably and are still allowed to compete in major games. The two swimmers who refused to stand with Sun did not say anything about him, were not verbally or physically aggressive either yet get the same reprimand as a bad tempered cheating bad sportsman, they acted with calm dignity unlike Sun.