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FINA's report is better late than never

4/15/2011

Swimming's world governing body deservedly took a pummeling Wednesday when veteran international sports executive Dick Pound, who chaired a USA Swimming-convened investigation into the death of open water star Fran Crippen, called out FINA for refusing to provide information requested by his group. That public pressure and numerous critical media reports apparently led FINA to release the findings of its independent panel Friday, rather than delaying them until July.

The full report is here. Read it and weep.

On first glance -- and it will take a longer, harder look to absorb the reams of data, personal accounts and analysis -- the report appears to be meticulous and unbiased in its preparation and forceful in its conclusions.

Now comes the hard part: Following up to ensure that no race put together in as slipshod a manner as the one Crippen died in last October is ever allowed to proceed again.

The report assigns much of the responsibility for what happened to race organizers, but also correctly points out that FINA rules in place at the time were vague and full of loopholes. Efforts are underway to strengthen them. But, it would have helped if this document -- which sources say was held up for political reasons -- was made available in a more timely fashion, rather than 48 hours before the first 10-kilometer race of the season.