Alexei Vlasenko, FINA & LEN Big Wig and Boss Of Russian Diving, Synchro & Water Polo, Arrested In Fraud Inquiry

2021-03-18 Reading Time: 2 minutes
Alexei Vlasenko - courtesy Eurasian Peoples' Assembly
Alexei Vlasenko - courtesy Eurasian Peoples' Assembly

Alexei Vlasenko, head of three Russian aquatic sports federations, chairman of the FINA Diving Technical Committee and a member of the ruling Bureau of the European Swimming League (LEN), has been arrested in Moscow in an inquiry into alleged fraud.

The move, confirmed by a Moscow court late yesterday, comes just over four months before the start of the Covid-delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Alexei Vlasenko in a brief court appearance - courtesy of The press service of Moscow's Basmanny District Court
Alexei Vlasenko in a brief court appearance – courtesy of The press service of Moscow’s Basmanny District Court

Vlasenko is head of Russia’s water polo, diving and synchronised swimming federations, faces up to 10 years in prison if found guilty of sizeable fraud. It is reported that the accusations are not connected to his “aquatic sports activities”, a point that will be clarified by pending litigation and proceedings. 

A former national team swimmer between 1977-1985, Vlasenko served on the Russian Olympic Committee President’s staff between 2007 and 2009. An economics graduate from the G. Plekhanov Russian University of Economics, he also trained in Soviet days as swimmer and later coach at the Russian State University of Physical Education.

Since those days, Vlasenko has journeyed far down the pathway of sports politics, his roles including LEN Technical Diving Committee (TDC) Member between 2012-2016, FINA TDC Vice-Chairman between 2015-17 and chairman since 2017.

In the build-up to the FINA World Championships in Kazan in 2015, Vlasenko attempted to join all aquatic sports in Russia into one over-arching federation with himself at the helm. In 2010, he became president of the Russian Diving Federation and, after three years of campaigning, in 2015 he added the presidencies of the Russian Synchronised Swimming Federation and the Russian Water Polo Federation.

He did not manage to stretch his brief to swimming, the Russian federation for which is led by Vladimir Salnikov, who is also a member of the FINA Bureau and back in the 1980s was known as the “Monster of the Waves” as the 1980 and 1988 Olympic 1500m freestyle champion and pioneering breaker of the 15-minute mark at the Moscow 1980 Games.

Alexei Vlasenko In Detention Until May 16

Alexei Vlasenko - chairman of the FINA Diving Technical Committee
Alexei Vlasenko – chairman of the FINA Diving Technical Committee

“The court granted the investigators’ petition for a measure of restraint in the form of detention,” Moscow’s Basmanny Court said. “Vlasenko is under arrest until May 16.”

Vlasenko could not be reached for comment.

While sanctions for several doping scandals will dictate that athletes from Russia will compete under the acronym ROC without their flag and anthem at the Tokyo Games, due to start on July 23, Vlasenkov continues to represent his country in key administrative positions at FINA and LEN. In June he is due to be among FINA leaders standing for re-election and appointment at the organisation’s Congress in Qatar.

The Congress, at which FINA will elect a new president against a backdrop of rule that all but guarantee one-horse races, will be held away from its usual slot on the eve of World Aquatics Championships, which have been delayed to 2022 as a result of the Covid pandemic and the need to shunt the Olympic Games from 2020 into 2021.

Meanwhile, LEN, the European federation, is at the heart of inquiries into alleged financial irregularities at the helm of the organisation, linked to three men who sit at the top table of FINA.

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