Monday, November 01, 2010

I would like to include some evidence that has not been mentioned in the press regarding the Fran Crippen tragedy!

UPDATE: I failed to make it clear that I have been told that Dale Neuberger recused himself from every Dubai meeting and FINA vote regarding the fatal Fran Crippen swim. I was also shown a reference at 'Swim News' that he did so as well.

I still stand by the questions I asked but I want to make it clear that I do not accuse Mr. Neuberger of using de facto leverage to get Dubai accepted as a venue but I do question what influence his title at FINA may have had in getting Dubai selected.

FINA has assembled a task force to investigate what caused Fran Crippen's tragic death at the UAE Swimming Association, FINA 10k Open Water Championships in Fujairah, Dubai.

I would like to include some evidence that has not been mentioned nor have I seen it written anywhere in the press.

First, FINA has put together a task force with the following members:


• Mr. Gunnar Werner
Lawyer, Senior Vice President of the Court of Arbitration for Sport & FINA Honorary Member


• Dr. Harold Vervaecke, PhD (BEL)

Secretary General of the International Life Saving Federation (ILS) Doctor in Sports and Physical Education

• Dr. Antonio Pelliccia, MD (ITA)
Scientific Director of the Institute of Sports Medicine of CONI and World Authority on Cardiovascular Disease and Sports Medicine (specialised in sudden death)

Mr. Greg Towle (AUS) – subject to confirmation Leading open water coach from Australia. He has extensive experience coaching open water swimmers under many different conditions.

• Dr. Tobie Smith, MD (USA): Doctor of family medicine practising in NYC. Champion in the 25km at the 8th FINA World Championships Perth 1998. Advocate for Open Water Swimming and safety for its athletes.

The FINA Task Force will start its activity immediately.


All members are summarily accomplished in their respective fields which is a very good start. Consequently, I would like to submit some evidence that was sent to me by someone who would prefer to remain anonymous.

Dale Neuburger, former president of USA Swimming, is an accomplished man. He served as USA Swimming President from 1998 to 2002. He is currently the Vice President of FINA and has been since 2000; (this is just scratching the surface of what he has accomplished.)

Neuburger's accomplishments in sport related activities run deep at the local, national and international level. Here is an ad hoc resumé at the FINA-Aquatics site that lists his accomplishments and the positions he currently holds.

One notable resumé point that sticks out is, Neuburger's, Director title, for a sports management company called, TSE.

Who is TSE and what do they do: if you read their What We Do section at the TSE website, these notable services stand out:

  • Host City Strategy and Development
  • Sports Performance (Includes: Developing a strategic plan for Games planning and preparation
  • Bid Process Management
  • Event Appraisal
  • Bidding

Above are just some of the items that TSE offers as a service but why does this mean anything and what is the big deal?

There is a press release at the TSE website stating that TSE not only organized the bid for the UAE Swimming Association, but that the UAE Swimming Associatioin won an overwhelming majority in the first round of bidding; (14-out-of 20-votes), defeating other bidders such as Hamburg, Germany and the Moscow, Russia. Counties who obviously feature cooler water for a 10-kilometer marathon swim versus the high-eighties the swimmers were subjected to in Fujairah, Dubai.

The question: Why is it that a Vice President of FINA was allowed to have a company that he holds a Director title within elligible to pursue an economic opportunity that may have been in his best interest to have FINA select?

Were there any conflicts of interest in this winning vote?

Did other members who voted for Dubai feel any undue influence or pressure to vote for the UAE venue versus Hamburg or Moscow since the Vice President of FINA possibly had a dog in the fight?

Can USA Swimming be unbiased since they may have to investigate a relationship of one of their own accomplished members?

I hope the FINA team assembled thoroughly investigate this tragedy which I call an unintentional homicide and release their findings to the family and the public at large.

If you work in the press and you are reading this, please go to the sites and take screen-shots.


TedBaker said...

In the normal course of events, the relationship between TSE, FINA and Mr. Neuburger would be of no consequence: Fran Crippens' death and the events leading to it, however, are - assuredly - not the normal course of events.

Clearly, the role that TSE played in lobbying for the UAE location and whether or not that lobbying trumped - by intent or, more likely, accident - safety concerns must be addressed.

I must say, I am surprised that FINA has not gone outside of it's membership to staff the investigation. This sort of thing practically screams for an independent investigation.

David Wendkos said...

This is an outstanding piece of information, and I thank you for sharing!

Tony Austin said...

Ted, I disagree. Even if the Vice President recused himself from any TSE/FINA meeting or vote regarding the UAE bid, at the very least and this is being quite kind, the appearance of impropriety.

Anonymous said...

Craig Lord documented the activities in Rome surrounding the bid and made note of Neuburger's position and decision to recuse himself.
Glamour and money have blinded some within FINA on the issue of suits, while conflicts of interests have been at the heart of the suits debate and at the heart of other matters under FINA jurisdiction. The winning Dubai bid for the 15th World Championships involved consultancy work by TSE, a group to which Dale Neuburger, US member of the FINA Bureau is linked. Neuburger had the presence of mind and the integrity to declare his interest in advance and inform FINA that he would abstain from voting when it came to selecting the winner. Others involved in the process were not quite so forthcoming.
Dale Neuburger had no involvement with the Dubai bidding effort, neither to provide advice to TSE personnel nor UAE Swimming leaders.

Tony Austin said...

Anon: Your whole argument is that you trust FINA; I don't hold that opinion for the way they handled the tech suit issue leaves me to question why you do when the appearance of impropriety is so blatant and so obvious.

One could trust that Dick Cheney recused himself on any meeting in regards to awarding a company called Haliburton; (his former employer), billions of dollars in Pentagon money to work in Iraq. A company that gave him a 32-billion dollar bonus when he left to run for Vice President.

This post is not a character assasination of Dale Neuberger but an indictment as to how FINA conducts business. The way they allowed UAESA to submit a bid in the manner they did is inexcusable in my oipnion.

As for Craig Lord, is he really that credible?

Perhaps we can take the analogy down a more local level and point to instances where a human resources division gives a secretary a huge promotion when her previous

TedBaker said...

Tony, I know you don't like him but Craig Lord is that credible. In fact, in the world of swim journalism, there is no one more credible, like it or not.

The pieces he's been writing on the events in the UAE, Crippens' death and the Commonwealth Games in Delhi have all been excellent and have all been from the perspective that athletes' safety and performance have been compromised by FINA and other governing bodies.

He did go a little nuts on the whole suit thing, I'll give you that, but his reportage of competitive swimming is the benchmark.

Tony Austin said...

In my opinion I can only go as far as considering Craig Lord "swim pundit."

The bomb I dropped about Craig Lord not being credible is something I regret writing. Though I do feel that way, I should have not written it. It was tacky and backhanded.