USA Swimming anger at decision to host open-water race in UAE

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More than four years after the death of open-water star Fran Crippen, swimming’s international governing body plans to hold a World Cup race in the UAE.

But USA Swimming has opposed the March 13 event in Abu Dhabi, saying it was “disappointed” that Fina, swimming’s world governing body, decided to return to the country where Crippen died during a Fujairah race in October 2010.

American swimmers could still choose to compete in the 10-kilometre race but their national organisation will not provide any financial assistance or support staff, making it highly unlikely that any US athlete will make the trip.

“The US swimming family is still mourning the death of Fran Crippen,” said Chuck Wielgus, the executive director of USA Swimming.

The organisation said it had “no plans to support or send athletes to the UAE for this event”.

A post-mortem examination found that 26-year-old Crippen died from drowning and heat exhaustion, although it did not exclude other factors.

As a result of organisational shortcomings, no one noticed initially when the Philadelphia swimmer disappeared. His body was found by divers two hours later.

Fina defended the decision to put Abu Dhabi on the World Cup calendar, saying it would be unfair to bar the UAE from ever hosting another open-water race.

“We cannot banish a federation for life,” executive director Cornel Marculescu said on Thursday.

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