Peaty threatens Olympic boycott, leads call for fair pay

Peaty threatens Olympic boycott, leads call for fair pay
By Reuters

20/12/2018 at 08:09Updated 21/12/2018 at 13:35

Adam Peaty is prepared to risk a ban and forfeit the defence of his Olympic titles as he called for swimming's governing body Fina to show more transparency and give 50 percent of its revenues to athletes.

Peaty, who holds the world record in 50 and 100 metres, was one of more than 30 Olympic and world champions to meet in London this week to discuss having more power and say in their sport amid growing frustrations with FINA.

The summit, at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge stadium, proposed setting up a global swimmers' association partly in response to FINA forcing the cancellation this month of a new rival event by separate event body the International Swimming League (ISL).

FINA last week announced a new team event to start next year, the Champions Swim Series, with a reported $3.9 million in prize money in an attempt to placate athletes.

Peaty, who smashed his own 100m record twice at the 2016 Olympics and then again in August this year, felt that it was not enough.

Great Britain's Adam Peaty (gold) celebrates winning the gold medal during the podium ceremony for the men's 50m breaststroke final during the swimming competition at the 2017 FINA World Championships.

Great Britain's Adam Peaty (gold) celebrates winning the gold medal during the podium ceremony for the men's 50m breaststroke final during the swimming competition at the 2017 FINA World Championships.Eurosport

"50-50 (percent pay)," he told Reuters when asked what he wanted from the governing body.

"If you're making X amount on a broadcast deal or from sponsorship the athletes need to see that or the teams and their athletes need to see 50 percent of that deal.

"That's what we need to take away (from the summit). We also need to take away that the athletes need their voices heard and there's 100 other things, that's the problem. Why is there 100 other things? Because we haven't been listened to."

Fina did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

“Fina leaders need to understand that we want a 50-50 fair share of the revenue generated by athletes and their hard work. That’s what ISL are offering,” the 23-year-old told the Times.

“All that talk of banning’s not going to happen, but the risk is always there.

“The athletes have all just agreed that we’ll be standing together and Fina must know we are going to have that leverage. If they ban one athlete we can all go - we’re all in it together and that’s how the sport needs to go.

“I’m not going to be bullied into a corner, especially by some guy sitting in his blazer a thousand miles away who doesn’t have any interaction with the sport and athletes.”

Peaty said that while his titles meant he could attract sponsorship deals to supplement income, the same could not be said of a swimmer who just misses out on a podium finish, even if they are the fourth best in the world in their discipline.

That was echoed by double Olympic backstroke champion Ryan Murphy who called for a breakdown of FINA's finances and how it contributed to prize money.

"The main thing I want from FINA is transparency. I have no idea if we're getting enough," the American told Reuters.

"There is no information...I'm sponsored by Speedo and I'm lucky that Speedo saw I could bring value to their company but not every swimmer is lucky like that so it is important for us to increase our opportunities outside of the major meets."

The ISL, backed by Ukrainian energy businessman Konstantin Grigorishin, intends to finally launch its competition next year which would feature 12 teams from Europe and the U.S.

It claims that FINA had threatened to ban athletes from competing in world championships or Olympic Games should they take part in the new event. FINA has denied this.

"We want to come together (and) if any one of us would get a ban, we would stand together so that there shouldn't be anything about banning," said Hungary's three-time Olympic champion Katinka Hosszu, nicknamed the 'Iron Lady'.

Federica Pellegrini, Italy's first female Olympic champion in swimming, insisted that the power rested with the athletes.

"I hope it will not come to a strike. This should be a last resort option," she said when asked if swimmers would make a stand should their demands not be met.

Peaty, 23, said he also had grievances with FINA's handling of anti-doping cases.

"Why am I racing people that have doped three or four times before? Why is it still in the sport? It's embarrassing and there's no integrity...

"There needs to be lifetime bans for anyone (doping) and if you speak to any athlete they'd agree but people are afraid to say it because of the backlash. I'm not afraid to say it."

The International Olympic Committee has previously tried to implement lifetime bans for proven dopers, however that has been prevented by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. (Reporting by Christian Radnedge; editing by Martyn Herman)