Times from Controversial Uzbekistan Open Annulled by FINA, Indian Federation Confirms

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Indian swimmer Likith Prema Photo Courtesy: YouTube

Times from the Uzbekistan Open, which included several Olympic A cuts attained under controversial circumstances, have been annulled by FINA, according to a report out of India.

Allegations of time tampering were levied by Indian swimmer Likith Prema, one of a large contingent of Indian swimmers at the meet in Tashkent. Swimming World reported in April that the times from the meet had been removed from FINA’s database. While FINA has not commented publicly on the matter (despite requests for comment), Swimming Federation of India secretary Monal Chokshi confirmed to Sportstar that the times from the meet were annulled.

Among the controversial times were FINA A cuts in the men’s 100 butterfly by Adilbek Yusupboev and Eldor Usmonov, and a men’s 100 freestyle A cut by Aleksey Tarasenko. Members of the Indian delegation, Prema said, had disavowed tampered times at the meet.

Prema returned to India after the Uzbekistan Open and posted a video disclosing evidence of the time cheating. Supporting documents were also acquired via other sources by Swimming World that corroborated Prema’s account. Prema said he was threatened by Uzbekistan swimming officials – a charge the federation denies, along with denying any wrongdoing in the timing – when he protested during the meet by not leaving the block during his final race.

Prema told Swimming World in April:

“I protested against it because I love the sport. This is what I’ve been doing for the last 18 years. I train by myself. I train alone. Every day I have to look for pool space to train in. I really love the sport and I want to do something for the sport.  When I saw this happening, it was very, very frustrating for me and very heartbreaking. What am I training for? What am I working for? If people are going to the Olympics so easy, why am I even training for this and working so hard?”

Prema also spoke to the Times of India Friday: “It is satisfying to know that FINA has taken note of the malpractices at the event,” Prema said. “I did what I thought was right. When you see people cheat it is very frustrating. Each day I train in the pool for 10 hours. There is a lot of effort and sacrifices that go into being an athlete. When you see all the hard work go down the drain because of malpractices, it just does not feel right.”