Has FINA Looked The Other Way When It Comes To Doping?


Commentary By John Leonard

Recently, a television journalist asked me…”What do you think about how FINA relates to doping today?”

I reflected how in the middle 90’s and onward for perhaps ten years, it appeared that FINA was a “born again” when it came to anti-doping. Fully supportive and fully engaged in trying to keep doping from making further inroads into our sport. The former President seemed to keep the Executive Director on the honest path, at least when it came to Anti-Doping.

But in the last several years, a different picture has emerged.

A Brazilian super-star is found with a positive drug test and gets off entirely free. And of course, Rio is the host of the 2016 Olympic Games and a “good show” requires that the host team do well.

Then an entire saga in China unfolds with one of the most famous Gold-Medalists in the world: A 24 year old athlete “requiring” a banned heart medicine. The athlete gets off with a light and meaningless penalty that ensures he is able to swim in the next big show (The Asian Games) and upcoming World Champs in Russia. His doctor is banned and yet remains on the pool deck helping the Chinese national team and his famous charge at the Asian Games. FINA Does Nothing.

In the same Saga, Every WADA reporting requirement, which FINA is sworn to uphold, is violated. FINA does nothing, WADA does nothing. The FINA Bureau Member, who SURELY knew of the penalty against his nations most famous ever athlete, never reports it to FINA OR FINA ignores his report….. China of course is an easy “go to host” of whatever FINA wants paid for in terms of events.

Then we move to Korea, another autocracy, where another famous 20 something year old world-famous athlete is reduced supposedly, to going to a free clinic, where he accepts medicine from an unknown doctor and uses it… and lo and behold, tests positive! And FINA….accepts a wrist slap penalty. Can’t be long until Korea bids for the opportunity to give FINA big dollars for something!

And now, this month, a 27 year old Russian woman, banned for 2.5 years for doping, suddenly “loses” the half year of the penalty, so she can compete in the Russian Federation trials for Worlds. She goes a full second faster in the 100 than she has ever gone before. She’ll be a Russian force on their relays at KAZAN. And FINA…does nothing…..and the World Champs will be in Kazan, if Mr. Putin doesn’t start World War III before then.

Meanwhile, an assortment of “nobodies” also has doping penalties, but their countries are not filling FINA’s bank account with funds for hosted events. They pay the full two year penalty as they should.

The very clear thing is that FINA is soft on doping when an Event Host is involved.

Is this FINA’s idea of the rule of law? Is this a “democracy”?

FINA won’t even answer journalists inquiries into all this cheating and avoidance of law enforcement. That’s a “transparent” organization?



FINA Decision Makers

FINA…We All Deserve Better.


  1. avatar
    Check your history

    Korea isn’t an autocracy. It’s been a democracy for over 30 years.

    But just like USA Swimming (with a different set of problems), FINA has no one to hold it accountable and no one to check the power-drunk leadership.

    • avatar

      Yes, the Republic of Korea is now a democracy, but perhaps the reporter confused it with the “People’s” Republic of Korea, which has been run by a series of tyrants.