FINA Regrets That Horton And Scott Put “The Sport Into Disrepute’ With ‘Unfortunate’ Protests: Hails ‘Great Success’

Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu said the FINA regrets that Duncan Scott and Mack Horton were “putting the sport into disrepute” with their “unfortunate” protests while describing the World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, as “a great success”.

The 2019 FINA World Swimming Championships will come to a close on Sunday night after eight days of drama in and out of the pool.

Eight world records were set in the swimming competition and there was a record number of 192 participating nations with FINA declaring the event a “huge success”.

“The venues were excellent. The athletes and media village had lived up to standards. And the organizing management for the competition were fantastic,” FINA President Julio Maglione said on Sunday in a closing press conference before the last session of the meet.

However, while Maglione and FINA waxed lyrical about the facilities and infrastructure, FINA Executive Director Marculescu was asked about the podium protests from Horton of Australia and Scott of Great Britain.

“It’s unfortunate. We are regretting the sense they put the sport in disrepute,” Marculescu said. “But hopefully after we continue discussing with the federations and the athletes everything will come together and agree.”

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank FINA and President Julio Maglione for their trust and great support in making these Championships the most successful in FINA’s history,” said Gwangju mayor Lee Yong-Seop.

Mayor Lee said that the World Championships will see “no negative side effects” because of how the city of Gwangju was successfully able to put on the Championships at a cheap cost. “There will be no financial burden for the local government which we have operated in an efficient way,” Mayor Lee said.

Lee said that he hopes the sport of swimming will continue to grow in Gwangju and in South Korea.

“We will carry out the legacy of Gwangju as a swimming city. Based on achievements of the Gwangju World Championships, Gwangju will take the lead in cultivating elite athletes, fostering swimming, popularizing swimming and swimming safety by establishing swimming infrastructure and expanding the swimming population base.”

However, despite the economic positives, the World Championships were marred with controversy. To start, Sun Yang was allowed to compete in the meet despite having a hearing in September about an incident that occurred in which he was party to the smashing of a vial of blood with a hammer during a doping test. This angered many of his competitors, including Australia’s Mack Horton, who won the silver medal behind Sun in the 400 freestyle on night one. Horton took a stance on the medal podium and refused to pose for photographs with Sun, thus receiving a warning from FINA for the incident, although he was greeted with applause at the athlete’s village from “nearly 200 people from all the countries.”

(L-R) Second placed Mack Horton of Australia keeps his distance to winner Yang Sun of China while they pose with their medals for photographers after competing in the men's 400m Freestyle Final during the Swimming events at the Gwangju 2019 FINA World Championships, Gwangju, South Korea, 21 July 2019. Gabriele Detti of Italy finishes third.

Mack Horton, left, keeps his distance to Sun Yang for the photo-op with bronze medallist Gabriele Detti after medals in the 400m free at world titles in Gwangju – Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

Two days later, Great Britain’s Scott replicated the silent protest started by Horton when the Brit refused to stand on the podium with Sun during the medal ceremony. Sun was angered by this and got in Scott’s face afterwards and called him a loser. It was a tense situation that resulted in both Sun and Scott receiving warnings from FINA for “bringing the sport and/or FINA into disrepute.”


Time to say goodbye to playing along with athletes towing a doping record, says Duncan Scott as he makes his way off the deck top cheers from the crowd and athletes – Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

When asked about the podium protests that occurred during the week, Maglione and Marculescu did not want to focus too much on that.

“We are here to demonstrate aquatic sport. We are here to show the world that we have fantastic swimming athletes,” Marculescu said. “You saw world records in swimming, the 200 butterfly with Michael Phelps’ world record going down was a historic moment. I think in general the participation of the Gwangju people last night was something outstanding from our point of view.”

Among the positives to take away from these World Championships, it’s that FINA is listening to the athletes. They threatened to ban many of the world’s best swimmers if they chose to compete in the Energy for Swim meet that was to be a precursor to the International Swimming League (ISL). FINA then started up the FINA Champions Series, which answered the athlete’s calls that many of them were not making enough money, and many called it a ‘step in the right direction.’

“It was very clear the position of the FINA Athletes Commission which all of them demonstrate the need of unity and today we show the value of sport. These things happen and probably are not going to happen anymore,” Marculescu said.

The fact that Marculescu said these things happen and “probably are not going to happen anymore” could lead to some serious changes in the sport with how FINA approaches anti-doping. Notably, Australia’s Shayna Jack, who would have been a key leg on Australia’s free relays, withdrew from the meet for “personal reasons” only for news to break that she actually tested positive for a banned substance. She did not swim in the meet and her future in the sport will be determined at a later date.

Swimming Australia has been critical of FINA’s approach to anti-doping, saying it needs to use the same approach that the ISL is doing, with “zero tolerance for doping.”

“Always we will have an incident, here or there. But the general view is that FINA is going to continue to understand the situation of doping and do as much as we can,” Marculescu said.


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Darren Sarah Bodey
4 years ago

Unfortunate…… phhht!

Catherine Johnson
4 years ago

What’s unfortunate is seeing athletes with pending drug cases competing

Jo Banham
4 years ago

So screaming at another swimmer that he’s a loser whilst under investigation for doping isn’t putting the sport into disrepute then…phhht !

Jodi Mavrinac
4 years ago

Pretty sure they’re doing a good job of putting the sport in disrespute themselves.

Davvid Abineri
Davvid Abineri
4 years ago

I believe that FINA has brought swimming into disrepute, not these swimmers. Why can’t FINA tidy up all outstanding drug offenses well ahead of any major competition rather than allowing this to happen. There should be no pending cases still open before any major international competition. If FINA would do this. such situations could probably have been avoided. Is FINA really doing a good job of regulating out sport and watching out for the swimmers in their decisions? They certainly weren’t when they allowed the rubber suits also.

Dana Andrew Eiler
4 years ago

Fina are a bunch of self serving twats they care little for anyone outside their little circle!.

4 years ago

Those who live in a glass house should not throw stones at others, drug cheats do come from all nationalities not just a certain country…

By the way who allowed him to compete pending investigation?

Jennifer Chu
4 years ago

Great World Swimming Championships with most sensible comments at Press Conference!

Pedro Ferreira
4 years ago

Great Scandal Success…AGREE 100%

Diane Pavelin
4 years ago

This is the same governing body that ignored evidence of East German doping in the ’70’s and ’80’s, and Chinese doping in the ’90’s. Why should we expect anything different from them now?

Lucia Montani
4 years ago

Whathever his name is should have NOT been allowed to compete !! Shame on whoever did not protest.

Carrie Turunen
4 years ago

Unfortunate is the poor sportsmanship by Sun Yang and blaming others for standing against doping! #dopersstink.

Michael Klunk
4 years ago

The meet and the swimmers were in fact a great success in spite of FINA. Why do FINA continue to ignore the evidence?

Rich Davis
4 years ago

The ‘unfortunate’ part of the meet was an incompetent FINA. Everything else was great most especially the athletes, the clean ones that is. ???

Ken Kessler
4 years ago

FINA enabling PED’s in the sport while harshly treating athletes who stand up to clean up the sport? FINA is far from a success

4 years ago

Those who live in a glass house should not throw stones at others, drug cheats do come from all nationalities not just a certain country…

By the way who allowed him to compete pending investigation?

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