Australia's Emily Seebohm has backed a proposed strike if FINA goes through with a threat to slap two-year bans on swimmers taking part in the rebel International Swimming League. Picture: Matt Roberts/AAP
Australia's Emily Seebohm has backed a proposed strike if FINA goes through with a threat to slap two-year bans on swimmers taking part in the rebel International Swimming League. Picture: Matt Roberts/AAP

Ex-Aussie champion warns FINA over rebel swimming league

FORMER Australian swimming champion Rob Woodhouse believes the "door is closing very fast" on besieged world body FINA with more stars threatening a boycott in support of a 2019 breakaway competition.

Momentum is building toward the rebel International Swimming League's formation after a two-day meeting in London last week that drew 30 Olympic and world champions.

Australians Emily Seebohm and Madeline Groves have backed English breaststroke superstar Adam Peaty's pledge to strike if FINA goes through with a threat to slap two-year bans on swimmers taking part in the ISL.

The trio were among the star-studded London gathering where details of the $A7.5 million ISL were unveiled by its backer, Ukrainian billionaire Konstantin Grigorishin.

Olympic medallist Woodhouse, now a high-profile sport agent, attended the meeting and believed the end was nigh for FINA if they did not listen to the angry swimmers.

"The door is closing very fast for @fina1908," Olympic medallist Woodhouse tweeted.

"Let's hope this does provide the impetus (for change). A big broom to sweep away the well fed cronies in charge would help."

The ISL will boast 12 teams - six from Europe and the rest from the US - in a 12-leg series from August to December.

There is no Australian team but Dolphins swimmers are allowed to compete for any outfit.

The ISL was initially scheduled to start this month in Italy but was scrapped after the ban threat, which would have rubbed swimmers out of the Tokyo Olympics, prompting the London summit.

A group of leading swimmers and the ISL are also suing FINA in separate lawsuits following the abandonment of the league's launch.

FINA has offered a belated olive branch, promising a greater voice for swimmers by granting its athletes' committee chairperson official voting powers and providing committee members a direct say at organisation's annual general congress.

FINA has also hastily announced a Champion Swim Series for next year, declaring it the "richest swimming event in history".

The invitation-only, three-leg Champions Swim Series boasting $A5.5 million in prizemoney and to be held from March to May has been dismissed by the ISL as a "shameless cut and paste" of their idea.

Swimmers are angry over not receiving a bigger cut from FINA, which made $164 million in gross revenue in 2016-17 but spent less than $29 million on prizemoney.

The athletes also want an annual series that will raise the sport's profile outside Olympic competition.

Peaty has led the charge for swimmers left outraged over the ban threat.

"I don't care, ban me if you've got to," the world and Olympic champion told BBC Sport.

"They can't get away with it (bans) because you'll lose all of the respect from the athletes and you can't bully them."

- AAP

News Corp Australia

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