World Aquatics has suspended the Philippine Swimming Inc. and ordered an electoral process for the national federation’s board of directors through the Philippine Olympic Committee.
The suspension was prompted by a PSI letter to swimming’s world governing stating that it still has the recognition of the Philippine Sports Commission, the government agency that funds sports programs.
“While the World Aquatics Bureau noted that PSI denied all allegations, it considers the allegations against PSI to be proven and very serious,” WA stated in a memorandum dated February 22, signed by its executive director Brent Nowicki and sent to the PSI, POC and the Asian Swimming Federation.
“World Aquatics has tried to resolve the many issues with PSI, but PSI and in particular, certain members of its Executive [the President and Members of the Board of Trustees] have ever since vigorously resisted to any assistance and help for the necessary reforms, showing no interest and no willingness to act in accordance with World Aquatics Constitution nor with the principles enshrined in such Constitution.”
The WA added: “Worse, by letter dated 4 February 2023, the Secretary General of PSI requested, by using wrong and misleading arguments, the intervention of the Philippine Sports Commission, a Philippine governmental body, into the affairs of PSI.”
Following the suspension, the WA sought the POC in forming an Electoral Committee with the mandate “to take all steps necessary to conduct and hold new elections.”
The WA sand the Electoral Committee’s functions include the call for or invitation to submit nominations; preparation of electoral guidelines, to ensure that voting by secret ballot is possible, vetting of possible candidates including eligibility tests, convocation of electoral assembly and running of the assembly and taking all actions necessary for fair and democratic elections without undue influence.
“In accordance with the World Aquatics Constitution, the members of the Electoral Committee shall be confirmed by the World Aquatics Bureau, based upon recommendation from the Philippine NOC,” WA furthered in the letter.
WA’s suspension order bars the PSI from exercising exercise any of its membership rights during the period of suspension, including the right to attend and participate in the international federation congress.
The suspension, WA indicated, will be lifted once the Electoral Committee has completed its mandate.
The sanction, however, doesn’t prejudice Filipino athletes from participating in WA competitions.
“During this transitory phase, the World Aquatics Bureau instructed the World Aquatics Office to ensure that Filipino athletes may continue to take part in World Aquatics competitions and events for which they are eligible and/or to benefit from World Aquatics Development Programs for which they meet the requirements, in compliance with framework conditions to be determined,” the IF said.
WA earlier ordered the creation of a Stabilization Committee to take over PSI’s functions as a national sports association. The committee recently conducted trials at the New Clark City for the national aquatics team to the Cambodia 32nd Southeast Asian Games.