FINA swimming body leader resigns after 35 years

Cornel Marculescu
Getty Images

LAUSANNE, Switzerland — Cornel Marculescu, the executive director of swimming’s governing body FINA, resigned Wednesday after 35 years in charge in which the sport transformed its commercial appeal but was often troubled by doping.

An Olympic water polo player for Romania, Marculescu took charge at FINA during the steroid-soaked 1980s, when East German swimmers dominated in the pool in what was later revealed to be a vast state-run doping scheme.

Over the following four decades, he helped introduce a wide range of often lucrative new events around the world in the various aquatic sports under FINA such as swimming, diving, artistic swimming and water polo. FINA is also among the sports with the largest shares of Olympic TV revenue.

However, FINA has faced criticism for a lack of transparency, placing among the lowest-rated federations in a survey of governance and integrity published last year by the umbrella body for summer Olympic sports.

The sport was repeatedly shaken by doping cases in recent years, including evidence that Russia operated a scheme to cover up performance-enhancing drug use across multiple sports and a still-unresolved case against Chinese Olympic champion Sun Yang for allegedly obstructing a drug test.

FINA said its ruling bureau accepted Marculescu’s resignation in an online meeting Wednesday and praised his “outstanding devotion” to the sport.

FINA said his longtime deputy Marcela Saxlund Medvedev would take over his job on an interim basis. FINA president Julio Maglione is also due to step down this year after 12 years when his current term in office ends.

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Olympian Derrick Mein ends U.S. men’s trap drought at shotgun worlds

Derrick Mein

Tokyo Olympian Derrick Mein became the first U.S. male shooter to win a world title in the trap event since 1966, prevailing at the world shotgun championships in Osijek, Croatia, on Wednesday.

Mein, who grew up on a small farm in Southeast Kansas, hunting deer and quail, nearly squandered a place in the final when he missed his last three shots in the semifinal round after hitting his first 22. He rallied in a sudden-death shoot-off for the last spot in the final by hitting all five of his targets.

He hit 33 of 34 targets in the final to win by two over Brit Nathan Hales with one round to spare.

The last U.S. man to win an Olympic trap title was Donald Haldeman in 1976.

Mein, 37, was 24th in his Olympic debut in Tokyo (and placed 13th with Kayle Browning in the mixed-gender team event).

The U.S. swept the Tokyo golds in the other shotgun event — skeet — with Vincent Hancock and Amber English. Browning took silver in women’s trap.

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Mo Farah withdraws before London Marathon

Mo Farah

British track legend Mo Farah withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon, citing a right hip injury before what would have been his first 26.2-mile race in nearly two years.

Farah, who swept the 2012 and 2016 Olympic track titles at 5000m and 10,000m, said he hoped “to be back out there” next April, when the London Marathon returns to its traditional month after COVID moved it to the fall for three consecutive years. Farah turns 40 on March 23.

“I’ve been training really hard over the past few months and I’d got myself back into good shape and was feeling pretty optimistic about being able to put in a good performance,” in London, Farah said in a press release. “However, over the past 10 days I’ve been feeling pain and tightness in my right hip. I’ve had extensive physio and treatment and done everything I can to be on the start line, but it hasn’t improved enough to compete on Sunday.”

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

Sunday’s London Marathon men’s race is headlined by Ethiopians Kenenisa Bekele and Birhanu Legese, the second- and third-fastest marathoners in history.

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