Mario Sanzullo And Caroline Jouisse Awarded European 25km Titles Months After Conditions Forced The Race To End

Open Water World University Games
Mario Sanzullo: Photo Courtesy: Gwangju Summer Universiade Organizing Committee

Mario Sanzullo and Caroline Jouisse have been awarded the respective men’s and women’s 25km titles, three months after the race at the European Championships was stopped due to weather conditions.

The race was brought to an end after about 15km in Ostia, Italy, as the conditions deteriorated with the chief referees and the safety delegates making the decisions to bring about an immediate finish to ensure the safety of the athletes and officials.

However, judges on land had trouble communicating with those on boats at sea whose job included interacting directly with the swimmers leading to confusion over whether the race had in fact been stopped and in turn whether that was communicated to the athletes.

After a delay of several hours, organisers ruled they could not be sure exactly when racing had stopped and therefore they could not determine a final order.

An independent investigation was undertaken by British firm Quest into events at the Europeans in August and the LEN Open Water Swimming Cup in Kiel days later.

It concluded:

  • The decision to suspend the 25KM race in Ostia by the Chief Referees and Safety Office after over 3 hours was made in accordance with the FINA rules and had a clear rationale.
  • The decision to overrule the suspension by the TOWSC Commission was in breach with the FINA Open Water rules and caused confusion among swimmers and coaches. The TOWSC decision not to award medals for that event was incorrect.

As a result, European governing body LEN set up a special committee who requested that the Chief Referees at the two events establish an athlete ranking at the time of the race suspension.

This was then verified by study of the relevant TV footage with the LEN Bureau “honouring the performance of the athletes and award medals and prize money for the 25KM races of the European Championships based on the ranking established by the Chief Referees, which is as follows:

MEN

1            Mario SANZULLO        ITA
2           Dario VERANI               ITA
3           Matteo FURLAN            ITA
4           Axel REYMOND            FRA
5           Marcel SCHOUTEN      NED
6           Matej KOZUBEK           CZE
7           Lars BOTTELIER          NED
8           Zalan SARKANY           HUN
9           Andreas WASCHBURGER GER
10         Ben LANGNER             GER
11          Martin STRAKA            CZE
12         Matthieu MAGNE         FRA
13         Alexandre VERPLAETSE FRA
DNF    Peter GALICZ                 HUN

Chief Referee: Volkan Unutmaz

WOMEN

1            Caroline JOUISSE                          FRA
2           Barbara POZZOBON                      ITA
3           Veronica SANTONI                        ITA
4           Lara GRANGEON DE VILLELE FRA
5           Lisa POU                                          FRA
6           Vivien BALOGH                             HUN
7           Silvia CICCARELLA                       ITA
8           Elea LINKA                                     GER
9           Luca VAS                                         HUN

Chief Referee: Malul Itzhak

Medals will be awarded at an appropriate moment in the coming months and prize money will be paid accordingly.

LEN added:

“The investigators, the Special Committee and the Executive made several observations during the investigation process and their conclusion was that:

  • Safety needs to be the highest priority and concern at any LEN open water competition.
  • Procedures need to be strengthened, clearly communicated, and documented.

“As a result, the LEN Bureau has decided that there is a need for stronger leadership skills and knowledge of Open Water Swimming Rules and appropriate procedures in the Technical Open Water Swimming Committee. This will help to ensure safe races and further development of the Open Water Swimming discipline of our sport.

“The LEN Bureau has decided to form a new Technical Open Water Committee based on a skills matrix.

“All federations will soon be able to submit candidates based on the required skills. Applications will also be accepted from members of the current TOWSC, that is currently suspended.”

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