FINA, Please Learn From WADA, Release Prohibited List Before Season

By Jason Marsteller

PHOENIX, Arizona, May 27. I wonder exactly how long the WADA "Approved" Drug List would be if it existed. I've been wondering that for the past week or so since FINA released its list of approved swimsuits, instead of a list of "not approved" suits.

Each year, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) releases the prohibited list of substances that Olympic athletes cannot and will not be allowed to use during their training. If athletes use these performance-enhancing or masking agents, they put themselves at risk of suffering some severe consequences that could end their careers.

The concept of stating what is not allowed works. This is the method used by law enforcement and regulatory bodies throughout the world. They tell people what they can't do, give them the consequences if they do it, then they focus their efforts on catching those that decide to do it anyway. Can you imagine passing laws on what a person can do?

I'm curious why FINA, the undisputed king of regulation within aquatic sports, won't follow the standard rules of governance when it comes to the swimsuit issue.

Is FINA worried that a banned suit manufacturer would sue them for being on the banned list? WADA isn't worried, and most policing agencies aren't worried about those types of lawsuits as long as the regulations are clear, fair and explained far enough in advance so that any self-respecting person would have the chance to learn the rules.

That brings me to another question. Why release the FINA Approved List in May, which is pretty much smack dab in the middle of the long course meter season?

Another lesson to be learned from other regulatory bodies is that they have standard calendars. When they create or change rules, they enact them at the beginning of the next calendar year. Doesn't really matter if it is based on a January to December year, or a fiscal-based year starting in July, each regulatory body picks a year and sticks to it.

When laws are created in the U.S., and within individual states in the U.S., the laws don't go into effect immediately. Each state has their own start date for the new legislative year, and people can plan accordingly.

Until recently, when the swimsuit issue became such an issue, FINA typically followed these regulatory structures as well. Tell people what they can't do, have those rules go into effect at the beginning of the following season, and then focus on catching those that decide to ignore the rules. It's a pretty simple formula that works rather well.

I'm just curious why FINA has decided to go completely against these basic tenets of regulation in the past few weeks.

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