FINA President Husain Al-Musallam has promised reform of the organisation since starting his tenure in June ©FINA

The International Swimming Federation (FINA) is expected to ratify sweeping reforms to the organisation - including the introduction of an independent integrity unit - when it stages its Extraordinary General Congress here in Abu Dhabi tomorrow.

Members of FINA are due to either participate online or gather at the Hilton Hotel situated on Yas Island to discuss and approve the "Phase one" changes suggested by the worldwide governing body's Reform Committee.

The ruling FINA Bureau unanimously approved the reforms - which are claimed to provide "immediate and transparent change" to the organisation that governs aquatic sport - at a meeting in October.

The 12-member Reform Committee was formed by Husain Al-Musallam following his election as FINA President - replacing the longstanding Julio Maglione - at the body’s elective Congress in June.

FINA's legal counsel François Carrard, a former director general of the International Olympic Committee, was appointed to lead the Reform Committee tasked with providing specific recommendations on areas of reform.

Following its investigation, the group presented a report that raised concerns over FINA's integrity and independence, possible conflicts of interest in anti-doping, and the marketing and promotion of the sport.

Among the Committee’s six proposals is the formation of the Aquatics Integrity Unit (AIU) which would align FINA with other major International Federations such as World Athletics.

The AIU would run the rule over areas including anti-doping, event manipulation and corruptible offences, and ethics violations.

François Carrard is chair of the FINA Reform Committee which has raised concerns over the running of the worldwide governing body for aquatics ©Getty Images
François Carrard is chair of the FINA Reform Committee which has raised concerns over the running of the worldwide governing body for aquatics ©Getty Images

FINA has also been urged to ditch its Doping Panel - which controversially cleared Chinese Olympic champion Sun Yang of wrongdoing before he was eventually given a four-year ban for tampering with a sample on appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) - and enlist the CAS Anti-Doping Division to adjudicate on anti-doping rule violations.

The Reform Committee claims this would address possible allegations of a conflict of interest with the Doping Panel, whose members are appointed by the FINA Bureau.

Significant changes to the FINA Constitution and Code of Ethics have also been proposed, with the Reform Committee claiming the process for ethics investigations and referral to the Ethics Panel "was not transparent and created significant distrust within the FINA family and general public".

It has suggested that FINA considers the implementation of a mental health and support programme.

FINA has been told to disband its current Ethics Panel in favour of creating an Investigatory Chamber, an Adjudicatory Chamber and a position of chief ethics and compliance officer.

A new version of FINA's rules on the protection from harassment and abuse has also been suggested.

Presidential term limits of 12 years, reviewing an events calendar described by the Reform Committee as "too dense" and favouring "quantity over quality", potentially changing the name of FINA and increasing prize money are among the other key recommendations, along with addressing the lack of women in high-profile positions.

An independent integrity unit is expected to be introduced by FINA ©Getty Images
An independent integrity unit is expected to be introduced by FINA ©Getty Images

Speaking to insidethegames last month, Jack Buckner, chief executive of British Swimming and a FINA Reform Committee member, said: "The new FINA President is serious about reform and the reform group I am part of is genuinely trying to reform the sport."

Michele Bernasconi, another member of the Reform Committee, is expected to speak on behalf of Carrard at the Extraordinary General Congress.

FINA executive director Brent Nowicki is due to present the Reform Committee's report before the Congress will be asked to vote on the implementation of the recommendations.

The FINA Bureau has decided that delegates present on site will vote by a show of hands, while those participating remotely have been asked to submit a mail vote.

Any amendments to the FINA Code of Ethics are not expected to come into force until June 2022 when the organisation stages it next Congress in Fukuoka in Japan.

Jace Naidoo, of South Africa, Hana Novotna of the Czech Republic and Ahmad Qadmani of Saudi Arabia are expected to be appointed as scrutineers by FINA.

The Extraordinary General Congress is to be held on the third day of the World Swimming Championships (25m) which is scheduled to run until December 21 in Abu Dhabi.