Italian Swimming Federation President Paolo Barelli Given Two-Year Suspension By FINA

Paolo Barelli LEN President Press Conference 33rd LEN European Water Polo Championships - Barcelona 2018 Barcelona (ESP) - Piscines Bernat Picornell Photo Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia/Insidefoto
Paolo Barelli -- Photo Courtesy: Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia/Insidefoto

Italian Swimming Federation President Paolo Barelli Given Two-Year Suspension By FINA

The longtime head of the Italian Swimming Federation and former head of the European Swimming League (LEN) will be barred from international swimming for two years. FINA announced Tuesday that Paolo Barelli was suspended by the organization’s independent Ethics Panel for multiple instances of financial impropriety that violate the FINA Constitution and FINA Code of Ethics. Barelli was provisionally suspended in September, and now the Ethics Panel has formally ruled on his guilt in a unanimous decision.

The 68-year-old Barelli was the LEN President for 10 years until he was replaced by Antonio da Silva in February. Barelli was first accused of financial irregularity in May 2020, and LEN offices were raided by Swiss police in relation to the allegations in March 2021.

According to documents provided by FINA, Barelli “caused pecuniary damages to a company related to the Italian Olympic Committee in April 2013 by claiming its reimbursement of expenses which had already been paid for by a grant of the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Italy. The expenses were claimed on behalf of the Italian Swimming Federation and were related to the renovation of the swimming pool of the Foro Italico.

Barelli was also sanctioned after he “signed an addendum to the hosting contract for the 2022 LEN European Aquatics Championships to grant the Italian Swimming Federation a significant fee reduction… Moreover, it was alleged that Mr. Barelli did not consult the LEN Bureau and LEN Treasurer prior to signing the addendum, even though he was required to do so pursuant to the LEN Constitution.”

The suspension is retroactive to September 14 (when the provisional ban took effect), and Barelli will be sanctioned  from taking part in any aquatic-related activities under the auspices of FINA or its members” until shortly after the 2024 Olympics.

The full decision from FINA can be found in two parts: part one and part two.