Budapest: Three-time Olympic champion Katinka Hosszu published a long statement on her Facebook page, calling on swimmers all around the world to take a stand against the International Swimming Federation (FINA), which introduced new regulations without consulting the competitors.
At the end of May, the FINA significantly modified the regulations of the 2017 edition of the FINA Swimming World Cup, and the new measures were then harshly criticised, reports Xinhua news agency.
One of the most important modifications is that a swimmer will be able to compete in only four individual races, whereas Hosszu, who won all the previous World Cups since 2012, used to compete in as many as 10 races per event.
“Everyone thinks that the new World Cup rule changes are against Katinka Hosszu. That can be partially true, because they definitely screwed me over,” she wrote on her FB page on Wednesday.
But she also underlined that she received unwanted advantages from FINA: “I could view myself as a victim, but, on the other hand, I get advantages from FINA that I never requested. I don’t want to automatically advance to the finals of the World Cup competitions based on my previous results at international competitions.”
“I want to race for the final spots with young talents, like Iwasakis or Egerszegis, and if they are better than me at the age of 14, let them show their talent.
“With the new World Cup rule changes they have to start from a disadvantage — they have to wait until the sport’s top athletes get old or finish their careers before they can have the advantage of automatic advancement to finals. This is just not fair,” she added.
She also considered it harmful that every event is not going to be offered at every stop: “Now, for example, a top German swimmer might not compete in his own country because his main event (or events) will only be offered in Moscow or Eindhoven, but not Berlin.”
“Why does FINA make rules that are harmful for the athletes, the organisers of the competition, the World Cup itself and swimming as a whole? These rules are risking the future of our sport, which I am not willing to support with my silence.”
She compared herself to basketball star Lebron James or tennis idols like Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
“How can a sport label rules ‘innovative’ when they are actually destructive, limiting the participation of the sport’s top athletes? Will the NBA limit one of its biggest stars, LeBron James, in his eighth participation in the big final next year? Will the ATP try to remind Nadal and Federer that their time is over?”
“As one of the current faces of swimming, I should be focused on preserving and extending my career by not taking on too many events and not having my image being overused. Instead, here I am fighting to be allowed to swim as much as I want and to continue to popularise my sport.”
She concluded her post by describing the developments at FINA as chaotic, and calling on swimmers to unite and take a stand against FINA.
“It’s not an exaggeration to say that FINA is in chaos. There is the lack of transparency in the financials, the constantly changing rules, and leaders with no vision. At first it may seem a bit scary, but this is the time for us, the swimmers, to do something about the future of our sport,” she said.
“The opportunity has always been right in front of us. But it is up to us to take the chance. Just like in any performance, we all have to start this together, but instead of us competing against each other, this time we have to fight together as one,” she underlined.