Represented by California law firms Farella Braun & Martel; and Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein; 3 swimmers have filed a proposed class action lawsuit against FINA for violating U.S. antitrust laws. Stars Katinka Hosszu, Michael Andrew, and Tom Shields are the lead plaintiffs in the case. The International Swimming League (ISL) have filed a separate lawsuit, on the same theories.
The lawsuits involve FINA’s moves to block the 2018 Energy for Swim meet that was supposed to be hosted in Italy later this month.
According to the release, the suit was only undertaken after FINA demanded a $50 million fee to approve ISL events.
“Very few select swimmers make a living swimming, while FINA is making a killing,” said Andrew, who in 2013 became the youngest swimmer to go pro. “FINA’s main consideration is not for swimmers. FINA set our sport back into the dark ages by blocking ISL’s request. They can co-exist.”
The cry from sport organizations whenever there is the slightest threat against their monopolistic position is that the entire sport will crumble if anything every so slightly changes their position of indisputable power. Sport organizations have a tendency to “cry wolf” as loud as possible in hopes that they can trigger a panic reaction amongst their membership so that the membership rallies in support of the sport organizations sole authority in the sport.
Swim Ontario (SO) & Swimming Natation Canada (SNC) “cry wolf” at anything that so much as comes across appearing as a threat (which imho serves only to reveal how weak, fearfilled, and fearful is the leadership at these organizations).
Athletes have put up with it… til now.
Now, it seems athletes have finally had enough… and are willing to unite and take the legal action necessary to provide themselves the freedom – which they should have without question – to compete without penalty or punishment outside of FINA sanctioned events.
Think about that for a moment… FINA is threatening athletes with 1 or 2 year suspensions if they compete at non-FINA sanctioned events.
What gives sport organizations the right to limit where an athlete competes?
Yet this is exactly what FINA is attempting to enforce: its belief that it ‘owns’ athletes…
that athletes can only compete if and when FINA approves.
SO & SNC are no different than FINA… in the past they have bullied athletes and associated swimming sport organizations to either comply with their rule or risk being banned eternally from the sport. SO & SNC – again like FINA – ‘cry wolf’ that any organized swimming event that is not supervised and sanctioned by them places all at undo risk, actually both SO and SNC claim that any organized swimming event without their approval is not only risking the entire sport it dooms the entire sport to inevitable collapse… seriously.
In a case against SO & SNC through SDRCC the key argument from both was that the risk of allowing ‘unattached swimmers’ to compete at sanctioned events would doom the entire sport to inevitable collapse! That unattached swimmers compete at all USA Swimming events and there seems to be no imminent collapse of the sport of swimming in the US… SO & SNC refuse to accept as a counter argument.
FYI… MSO is in its second year of independent operation and there is no evidence of ‘doom’. Instead, the number of meets in Ontario is growing. Last year, MSO held its first independent Masters Provincial Championships in Nepean with over 600 swimmers and 2000+ swims. Those championships were also used by the Canadian Forces to hold their own Masters Swimming Championships. This season, MSO Provincials will be held in Markham.
In the case of OFSAA withdrawing from association with SO & SNC many years ago I am certain that both cried wolf as well that withdrawal by OFSAA from the system as it stood… would result in doom for all.
OFSAA Swimming Championships have been running independent of SO & SNC for a few years now. Last season Championships where held in the newly constructed swimming complex in Windsor; this season OFSAA will be held in Toronto at the Pan Am Pool.
This is what SO & SNC claim to be… doom? As ‘the end’ of swimming as we know it?
How many times do we have to hear sports organizations ‘cry wolf’ with claims of doom before we realize that they are not afraid for the sport, they are not afraid for the well-being of athletes, they are afraid for themselves… that the opening of the sport would reveal the cronyism, the corruption, the effort to profit and empower only themselves.
Athletes & parents of athletes… either you stand up for your freedoms, or you can be guaranteed that your sport organization will work to take it from you, to control you and your children.
I wish Katinka Hosszu, Michael Andrew, and Tom Shields and their legal teams all the best in their efforts against the dictatorship that is FINA. Hopefully Canadian athletes will take note and take appropriate action as needed against SO & SNC.