FINA President Julio Maglione has claimed FINA are always looking at ways to make improvements ©FINA

The International Swimming Federation (FINA) have hit back at claims they would ban athletes who competed at unsanctioned competitions while insisting that prize money has increased.

FINA released a statement to "correct a number of inaccuracies and to clarify its position in several key areas" following the conclusion of a two-day International Swimming League (ISL) summit held in London yesterday.

The summit was billed as a chance for swimmers to discuss the steps they can take to turn swimming into a "professional sport with regular wages".

Increased rights and ensuring they receive a "fair share of revenues generated by governing bodies at world and Olympic level" was also discussed.

It was suggested that athletes were contemplating the establishment of a Professional Swimmers Association which would aid efforts to withdraw from competitions in which they do not believe they are receiving a fair share of revenues.

It will also allow them to consult with other athletes over issues including image rights and race formats, it is claimed.

Responding to the summit, FINA stated they welcomed comments by "all athletes with regard to the constant improvement in the quality of FINA events", with the governing body claiming they were a "source of motivation".

FINA claimed there is "always scope for improvement in FINA's engagement with athletes, including changes which would see a direct election of the Athletes' Committee, by the athletes participating in FINA events".

They also asserted that the Athletes' Committee will have a greater say in the organisation in future, with the chair set to become a voting member of the FINA Bureau, while remaining Committee members will have voting rights at the General Congress.

A key area of discussions has been the prize money available to athletes at events.

FINA's accounts have shown that the governing body currently distributes 12.5 per cent of their annual revenues to athletes in the form of prize money.

FINA's statement comes a day after the International Swimming League held a summit in London ©Getty Images
FINA's statement comes a day after the International Swimming League held a summit in London ©Getty Images

The ISL stated this does not include pension rights and insurance, with the organisation claiming they had pledged to share 50 per cent of the revenues generated by their series with athletes.

They claim athletes should accept "nothing less" from any competition organiser, including the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

FINA have hit back, claiming the governing body has significantly boosted prize money over the past decade and is significantly backing development projects.

"FINA's careful financial management has already seen it ensure a winning model for the future of aquatics that includes massively increased prize purses for athletes, up more than 500 per cent in ten years,"FINA wrote.

"FINA's approach has demonstrated prudence, including the establishment of necessary reserves to withstand the unforeseen cancellation of a major event, thus guaranteeing sustainability.

"FINA's approach has also demonstrated a substantial ambition, with significant increases in development funds now available: FINA aims to increase the number of Member Federations having athletes qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

"This initiative notably includes direct financial support to promising swimmers, in order that they may benefit from scholarship programmes."

The dispute surrounding FINA and the ISL has intensified in recent weeks after the former refused to sanction an ISL competition in Italy.

The competition, which the ISL claim was due to be a test event for their professional team format, would have featured eight international clubs made up of 12 male and 12 female swimmers.

They were due to compete over two days of races across all swimming events in a short course pool, where the four teams which gained the most points would progress to a grand final over the following two days.

It was cancelled when FINA reportedly warned that any swimmers who took part would face bans.

FINA hit back at the ISL's claims they had requested $50 million to sanction events ©Getty Images
FINA hit back at the ISL's claims they had requested $50 million to sanction events ©Getty Images

FINA defended their decision to refuse to sanction the event, asserting the request to hold it was made at "short notice".

The ISL claim that FINA had requested a $50 million (£39 million/€44 million) fee to approve events, while allegations were also made that swimmers could face up to a two-year ban should they compete in unsanctioned events.

FINA have now denied this is the case.

"The allegation that FINA would have requested a $50 million fee from the ISL is incorrect," FINA stated.

"This was the ISL's initial proposal.

"As to the issue of alleged athlete bans resulting from participation in unsanctioned events, FINA merely stated that results achieved in competitions for which approval and sanction were not duly sought and obtained would not be recognised.

"No approval was duly sought for the event announced in Turin.

"The decision to cancel it was made by the Italian Swimming Federation and ISL, which was presented merely as a sponsor."

The cancellation of the event has led to two civil lawsuits being filed against FINA, with the first brought forward by the ISL.

The second, filed by Hungary's Katinka Hosszú and American swimmers Michael Andrew and Tom Shields in the United States, also alleges FINA have violated anti-trust laws.

FINA launched its own Champions Series last week, which has been viewed as a direct response to the ISL, with the governing body promising a total prize purse of nearly $4 million (£3 million/€3.5 million).

The ISL have claimed the Champions Series is a "shameless cut and paste" of their ideas, however.

FINA's event will see swimmers grouped together on a continental or sponsorship basis, with each team comprising of 12 men and 12 women as the ISL had also planned.

An analysis of FINA's finances for 2017 can be read here