World Swimming Concerned With Nepotism, Antiquated Drug Testing Procedures

JACKSONVILLE, Florida, September 15. GEORGE Block, the president of the World Swim Coaches Association, talks about the myriad of issues that affect athletes and coaches worldwide in this video interview from the American Swim Coaches Association’s World Clinic.

One of the top issues Block is hearing from coaches around the world is the selection of swimmers for international teams based on political reasons and not athletic ability. Many heads of state use nepotism and favoritism to pick athletes that are associated with those in government positions, neglecting to send the coaches and swimmers who work the hardest to attend the biggest meets.

FINA gives certain developed countries the ability to select their swimmers based on the “Universality” policy, Block says, and the international governing body doesn’t go further in giving those countries requirements to select athletes. Block said ASCA, WSCA and FINA visit these developed countries to help improve the sport there, so swimming is getting better in many ways, but Block says the practice of universality “is holding down world swimming.”

Block also talks about drug use and drug testing in swimming, saying the equipment used in sports is “antiquated.” He says he is “cautiously optimistic” that more modern technology is possible.

1 Comment

1 comment

  1. avatar
    Dick Beaver, D.C.

    Interesting, George, that the most pressing issue in world swimming today is getting these small, third world countries to knuckle under and use USA/Australian and most European countries style selection processes of fastest swimmer at the trials makes the team. Control of athlete selection in all sports in these countries is still, and will remain, in the hands of the powerful and the wealthy. That also includes selection to some of the soccer teams mentioned in the interview. Ideally, I am in 100% agreement that it is a major issue. Practically, you are batting your head against the wall. Unless things have changed radically in the past few years, there is still a problem in some of the larger countries where a “famous” swimmer will be sent to the games even though he/she did not win a place at the selection meet. We will never stop “Prince Wadi” or “Sheik Mustafa” or millionaire Gonzales from being able to control the selection process in their countries.
    We should continue focusing on the development of coaches and swimming programs with our exported seminars and coaching clinics worldwide. That type of grassroots program will eventually have a more positive influence on our sport.
    However, go for the gusto on the drug issue. I didn’t get much positive, forceful energy from your drug testing comments . Unfortunately the drug “inventors/developers” will remain ahead of any testing programs until someone discovers that a product is being used. It will remain a game of catch-up. We must stay aggressive in order to remain as close as possible to new drug development. (The money is on the developers side, unfortunately).
    I attended the first World Coaches clinic at the Mexico Games, in 1968, as a coach of the Italian Swim Team. Side note: One of our American organizers, well meaning of course, asked the gathering to “please raise your hand if you don’t speak English……..” I am sure you all have progressed to using simultaneous translating technologies since then?

Author: Jeff Commings

Jeff Commings is the Senior Writer for and Swimming World Magazine. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in journalism and was a nine-time NCAA All-American.

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