Paolo Barelli Banned By FINA For Two Years Over Huge Payments Related To Euro Champs Contracts Between LEN & Italian Federation
Paolo Barelli, the former vice-president of FINA, ex-head of the European Swimming League (LEN) and current president of the Italian Swimming Federation (FIN), has been suspended for two years by the global regulator for aquatics after a ruling by the appeal chamber of the Italian Court of Auditors went against the former international swimmer.
Barelli was investigated by the FINA Ethics Panel on allegations of multiple rule violations of the FINA Constitution and the FINA Code of Ethics stemming from what FINA notes as:
- the unilateral signing of an addendum to a contract between LEN and FIN, that would benefit the latter by between €500,000 and €1.5 million.
- the claiming of expenses totalling €495,587.22 from the Italian Olympic Committee, on behalf of FIN, despite these already having been paid by the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance. This was found by the appeal chamber of the Italian Court of Auditors to have caused pecuniary damages.
From January next year, the Aquatics Integrity Unit will be open for business, tasked with taking on such cases as that of Barelli, who is also under scrutiny in investigations by authorities in Switzerland and Italy over allegations of financial irregularity at LEN.
The Integrity Unit carries a tag of independence, which will be tested as time and cases unfold, dependent on the terms of engagement FINA have put in place. Perhaps the last case of alleged misconduct to be tested by the Ethics Panel before the Integrity Unit takes over, the allegations against Barelli for part of concerns raised by head of Swiss Swimming and former LEN president and FINA Bureau member Bartolo Consolo.
Consolo’s efforts to highlight the unacceptable behaviour at the heart of top governance in swimming were resisted by some fellow leaders but the first dividends of his labours are now a matter of judgement and suspension at FINA.
In suspending Barelli, FINA has also turned a spotlight on others at the top table who have serious questions to answer but have ignored media requests for answers and calls for leaders to treat all in positions of authority to the same scrutiny as that faced by the Italian now barred from the sport until after the Paris Olympic Games.
All eyes on the Integrity Unit and the potential complaints and referrals ahead.
The FINA Statement on Barelli, in full, with links to the ruling in full:
LAUSANNE (SUI) – November 9 – After having previously imposed a provisional suspension, FINA’s independent Ethics Panel has today suspended Paolo Barelli for a period of two years.
The FINA Ethics Panel investigated multiple referrals of alleged wrongdoing from separate cases against Mr. Barelli, President of the Italian Swimming Federation (FIN), former FINA Bureau Member and former Ligue Européenne de Natation (LEN) President.
The allegations of wrongdoing under investigation by the FINA Ethics Panel against Mr. Barelli included multiple rule violations of the FINA Constitution and the FINA Code of Ethics stemming from:
– the unilateral signing of an addendum to a contract between LEN and FIN, that would benefit the latter by between € 500 000 and € 1 500 000
– the claiming of expenses totalling € 495 587.22 from the Italian Olympic Committee, on behalf of FIN, despite these already having been paid by the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance. This was found by the appeal chamber of the Italian Court of Auditors to have caused pecuniary damages.
Following hearings and extensive consideration of the allegations, the FINA Ethics Panel unanimously decided to impose sanctions that ban Mr. Barelli from taking part in any aquatic-related activities under the auspices of FINA or its members. Mr. Barelli has been banned for a period of two years starting from 14 September 2022, the date of the provisional suspension previously imposed.
The decisions of the FINA Ethics Panel: