ISL Accuses Federations Of “Bullying” Athletes After Mass Withdrawals From Second Season

Foto Fabio Ferrari/LaPresse 20 Dicembre 2019 Las Vegas - USAsport nuoto 2019 ISL - International Swimming LeagueNella foto: Trofeo Photo Fabio Ferrari/LaPresse December 20, 2019 Las Vegas - USAsport swimming 2019 ISL - International Swimming League In the picture: trophy
Picture courtesy: Fabio Ferrari/LaPresse

The International Swimming League (ISL) has appeared to take a swipe at Swimming Australia while accusing “some national swimming federations’ leaders” of bullying and intimidation after several athletes withdrew from the second season.

All was well exactly two weeks ago when founder Konstantin Grigorishin announced details of the campaign which will start on 16 October in Budapest, Hungary, with the Toronto Titans and Tokyo Frog Kings joining the fray.

The Ukrainian expressed his hope that the grand finale can take place in Tokyo at the end of December following five weeks in Budapest.


Kyle Chalmers – Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr/Swimming Australia Ltd.

However, Olympic champion and London Roar co-captain Kyle Chalmers posted on social media six days ago that injury would prevent him from taking his place in the team which featured a large amount of Australians.

It soon became clear that Roar teammates Cate and Bronte Campbell and Emma McKeon as well as Cali Condor swimmers Ariarne Titmus and Mitch Larkin were not prepared to risk travelling to Europe and pulled out of the ISL season.

Swimming Australia’s advice from the travel and health perspective had been to stay home – but at the end of the day the swimmers and the coaches had to weigh up all the information and risks and make their own decisions.

However, the International Swimming League today issued a strongly-worded statement that appeared to point an accusatory, angry finger at the Australian federation without actually naming them.

So too other countries’ governing bodies who they also claim are pressurising swimmers to not take part.

It read:

“The current health crisis should not be used to entrench existing vested interests.

“It is unacceptable that some national swimming federation’s leaders, knowingly and cynically use the pandemic to intimidate athletes who wish to participate in other competitions.

“Athletes must be protected not only in their physical integrity but also in their economic and social integrity. They need to compete or risk imperilling their livelihoods.

“ISL stands for the right of all athletes to freely live their swimming life, believes it is time to put power back into their hands, to champion their right to make a living they deserve, and to have a greater say in the way their sport is run.

“The recent bullying and pressure on some of the athletes who are already in a precarious position is a political manoeuvre and contrary to the very spirit of sport.

#YesToCompetition #NoToBullying”

It continued:

“The International Swimming League has chosen to host its 2020 season in a single location with a condensed 5-week schedule from October 16, 2020.

“ISL is committed to offering a safe environment to all athletes and staff. This is why, a strict medical protocol, developed with one of the best and renowned international scientific teams, will be in place, in and around the world-renowned Duna Arena in Budapest, Hungary, which will serve as the venue for this year’s only major competition to feature the world’s best swimmers.”

Rob Woodhouse, general manager of London Roar, was taken aback by the statement and told Swimming World:

“It has come as a surprise to read it. I don’t fully understand what it means.”

Others staying at home are Minna Atherton, Holly Barratt, Alex Graham, Matt Wilson and Elijah Winnington (all from the London Roar) and Jack Cartwright, Meg Harris and Clyde Lewis from the Cali Condors and Mollie O’Callaghan and Abbey Harkin (NY Breakers) as well as coaches Peter Bishop and David Lush (Roar) and Boxall (Condors).

It leaves both the Roar and the Condors both decimated.

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1 year ago

I’m pretty low on the COVID risk concern level, but I’m not getting on a plane for a while. Why take the chance unless you have a really good reason to travel by air? These swimmers would be risking a lot by flying to meets on other continents, and it makes perfect sense for them not to take the chance.

1 year ago

Also how can ISL guarantee that aussie swimmers can fly back home after Hungary then fly out again to japan if need be ? There’s not enough flights flying back to Australia as it stands at the moment and whatever flights remain are so expensive so who’s expected to shoulder all the costs ? And no insurance should a swimmer become ill overseas

I thought the whole event would be over after the 5 weeks stint in Budapest ., instead they’re making them fly to another destination later as if there is no pandemic around.. grossing international borders carry inherent risks and is rather reckless to think otherwise