On December 16, a San Francisco court ruled that the Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA), the body based in Lausanne, Switzerland, that governs Olympic swimming, has to answer to allegations that it has been operating an illegal monopoly, in part by financially punishing athletes who want to compete in events that it doesn’t recognize or control.
The judgment came after a year of hearings in a suit jointly filed by the International Swimming League (ISL), a new global swimming competition, and three champion swimmers pursuing a class-action suit against FINA, a subsidiary of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The swimmers are U.S. Olympic butterflyer Tom Shields, U.S. world-champion individual-medley swimmer Michael Andrew, and multiple gold medalist Katinka Hosszú, from Hungary.
Denying FINA’s attempt to dismiss the case and keep sealed internal communications disclosed during the discovery process, San Francisco District Court magistrate judge Jacqueline Scott Corley ruled that, in their attempt to show that FINA was operating “a global anti-trust conspiracy… the plaintiffs have satisfied their burden of making a prima facie” case. The court will hold an initial case-management conference to determine the next steps in mid-January 2020.