Official and whistleblower speak out on allegations against FINA Vice President Zhou Jihong

FINA Vice President’s Alleged Unethical Behavior Zhou Jihong has been well known within the aquatic community for the past three months, but things hit a new level this week when CNN Sports released a report shedding light on the allegations.

In February, SwimSwam reported on allegations made against Zhou by Diving New Zealand and the manager Lisa Wrightwho claimed that Zhou verbally abused her at the end of the men’s 10-meter diving final at the Tokyo Olympics.

Following the filing of the complaint, a whistleblower made further allegations against Zhou, with the allegations primarily centering on her using her power to influence and manipulate dive results to ensure the success of dives. Chinese divers in competition.

A video also surfaced of Zhou coaching a Chinese diver during the Games.

Zhou using her position to ensure the success of Chinese divers aligns with allegations made by Wright, who said she was verbally attacked by Zhou for pointing out Chinese athletes.

Now in the CNN Sports report, both Wright and whistleblower Simon Latimer have spoken out on the allegations against Zhou and how they believe action should be taken to help the future of the sport.

Wright detailed the incident with Zhou, calling it “one of the most humiliating experiences of my life.”

“I just said I’m sorry you felt that way and I left and ended up crying in the bathroom which was definitely not how you wanted to end your first Olympics event” , Wright said. CNN Sports.

“It was quite traumatic for me, to be honest, especially considering everyone knows she’s the Vice President of FINA.”

Latimer, a former New Zealand diver who is currently a member of FINA’s Diving Technical Committee (DTC), said part of the reason he filed the complaint was that a similar incident “won’t happen again. never”.

“There are a lot of things to consider around the welfare of the athletes, but we also have to take into account the welfare of the officials,” he said.

Latimer’s whistleblower complaint alleged that Zhou not only coached Chinese divers at the Olympics, but also at other high profile events, including the FINA World Championships.

“It’s absolutely unethical…if you’re training divers from your own country, I don’t see how you could be considered a neutral party,” he said.

“I also can’t think of any other sport where you’d have a VP pool deck coach and have such an open interest in debating.”

Another DTC member, Colleen Huffmansupported Latimer’s claims regarding Zhou’s behavior at other events besides the Tokyo Olympics.

“A lot of times she’s very subtle about it, but obviously at the Olympics she wasn’t subtle at all,” Huffman said. CNN Sports.

“For her to have her job and be a coach is a huge conflict of interest. It’s one thing if she’s helping out at home with the national team, but it’s another thing if she’s actively coaching an athlete on the national team. a major event for FINA as it serves as the Bureau’s liaison.

Another TDC member, Dominique PhilippopoulosTold CNN Sports that she has twice asked to train divers from her native South Africa at international events, but FINA has turned her down each time.

Philippopoulos made the requests due to the fact that the South African Diving Federation has limited resources and often struggles to fund sending coaches to international events.

Wright says she didn’t necessarily want to press charges about the incident with Zhou, but acknowledged that if she did nothing, she could be barred from future juries, not to mention she wants to make sure the future of the sport is judged without bias.

“At the end of the day, I think my biggest question was, why am I in this sport and why am I here?” she says. “I felt it was important that we do what is best for the sport of diving, that it remains fair, because that is why I am here as a judge: that I rank these divers in the order in which they should be ranked.”

The complaint filed by Diving New Zealand on Wright’s behalf resulted in FINA removing Zhou’s position at the time of the incident, Bureau Liasion Person, and the organization also ordered that she issue Wright a formal apology. , what she did.

However, regarding Latimer’s whistleblower complaint, FINA said it would not investigate the issues raised as they were already addressed in Wright’s original complaint.

Latimer says the issues are being “swept under the rug” by FINA.

“I am well aware that through this whistleblowing process, I could lose my position on the technical committee,” Latimer said.

“We have elections in two months in Budapest [at the World Championships, which start on June 17].

“But for me, dealing with this complaint and getting action is more important than maintaining my position on the committee, although I would obviously like to stay on the committee and be part of the process to ensure that this kind of behavior does not continue. not. .”

The allegations against Zhou took so long to come to light because of his powerful position, Latimer added.

“People are scared, they’re petrified of rocking the boat and losing their position,” he said.

Huffman said she believes if Zhou stays on, the sport will struggle to find new judges.

“People won’t want to judge. They just won’t,” she said.

“We are already struggling to recruit judges, especially outside of the South America region. All the judges in this area are getting older and new people coming in, they hear bad things about her, how mean she is, how intimidating she is. Who wants to experience this?

Wright is expected to return to officiating this year at the upcoming World Championships in June and the Commonwealth Games in July.

Although Zhou is likely to be at Worlds, Wright is not concerned.

“What’s in the past is in the past,” says Wright. “I truly believe that I choose forgiveness, that I choose to move on and continue doing what I love.”

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