Swimming-FINA approves creation of integrity unit as part of major overhaul

(Reuters) - The International Swimming Federation (FINA) approved a number of reforms to improve governance and transparency within the organisation, including the establishment of an independent Aquatics Integrity Unit (AIU).

FINA president Husain Al-Musallam said the reforms, approved at the federation's Extraordinary Congress in Abu Dhabi, would "bring aquatic sports into the 21st century".

The governing body's independent Reform Committee published a report in October recommending changes to address concerns over the governing body's operational independence and possible conflicts of interest in handling anti-doping violations.

"We have demonstrated that our athletes and their welfare are at the heart of everything we do and everything that we stand for," Al-Musallam said. "The introduction of an Aquatics Integrity Unit is at the heart of all our reforms.

"It is this unit, entirely independent of FINA, that will protect our aquatics community from ethical and discriminatory violations, match-fixing and all forms of harassment," Al-Musallam said.

Changes to FINA's Constitution, Code of Ethics and Rules on the Protection of Harassment and Abuse -- put forward by the Reform Committee earlier this year -- were also approved by the Congress.

FINA said the AIU will be operational from June next year, with members to be elected at the federation's General Congress in May in Fukuoka, Japan.

(Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Michael Perry)

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