The Fundamentals Of Corruption

The problem with Swimming New Zealand (SNZ) bureaucrats is not that they deliberately set out to be dishonest. The problem is they have no concept of the difference between honesty and dishonesty. They are not immoral; they are amoral. They believe the way they act is the way it should be done. They see nothing wrong. They do not understand that in 2018 the divine right of sporting kings is no longer the way to govern. They do not understand that decisions made in sporting offices must be honest and must comply with national and international laws.

The Chairman of SNZ was seriously upset that Swimwatch and others questioned his signature on Lauren Boyle’s 1500 meter record application.  He even used the sport’s Annual Report to express his anger. But the fact was his organisation signed a record application that said the pool Lauren swam in complied with all FINA rules. That was a lie. Worse, it was an unnecessary lie. SNZ played with words in an attempt to justify their dishonesty. But it was all a case of protesting too much. The stain on FINA and SNZ, the exposure of dishonesty that episode brought about will never be repaired. Why? Because with FINA’s complicity SNZ got away with a lie. Corrupt behaviour got a pass.

The same thing is happening now. I spent three days being interrogated by SNZ about accusations made about my coaching. Two years later I am having to fight through the New Zealand Privacy Commissioner for the right to read the investigator’s report. I have no doubt the report clears me completely. If it didn’t, I would never be allowed in a swimming pool again. However for some reason SNZ are fighting tooth and nail to avoid the accused, that’s me, reading the report. So far they have refused to give me the report. They have asked for it all to be redacted. They have played every childish game imaginable. They appear oblivious to the fact that their behavior is illegal and will eventually cause a dishonesty stain on them and the organisation.

Those are two examples of behaviour in sport that would not be tolerated elsewhere. There is a corrupt autocracy in Olympic sport that must be changed. Fortunately Russian billionaire, Grigorishin, is pressing ahead with his ISL mission. Educating athletes is one of the keys to progress. And here is one of the lessons described by Craig Lord on his SwimVortex Facebook page.

There are, he notes, “100 times more bureaucrats (parasites)” in Olympic sport than there are in the world of professional, commercialised sport. Where UEFA has 500 employees and has an annual revenue of $3.3 billion to feed into average salaries of $1.5m for around 1,500 players, the top five Olympic sports, including track and field and swimming, are run by around 80,000 bureaucrats, revenue is around $4 billion and the 1,000 best athletes have an average income from their work of $25,000.

Clearly that is corrupt. Olympic sports are behaving badly. But does that dishonesty extend into SNZ? The numbers are not easy to find. We know from the Annual Accounts that Steve Johns, the CEO, and Peter Carroll, the Finance Manager, together receive $285,000. The other 14 are a bit of a guess but based on the figures in the 2018 accounts my guess is the remaining 14 are paid a total of $1,000,000. All up that is a total payment on wages of $1,285,000 or an average of $80,300 over the 16 staff members.

What do the athletes get paid? The answer is $91,000 in PEGS payments and $4000 in rewards. That totals $95,000 or a pathetic 7% of the bureaucracy’s wage bill and an even more pathetic 3% of the organisations total income. I’m not sure how many swimmers the $95,000 is spread over. My guess is about 16, meaning each athlete averages $6,000.

So what does this say? It says Johns and Francis put an average value on their office staff of $80,300 each and value their swimmers of $6,000; only 7% as much. So when Francis or Johns tell you how important the swimmers are, when they talk up a storm about the swimmers coming first, ask them why the swimmers rate of pay is only 7% of their office staff. SNZ are every bit as corrupt as FINA. The bulk of the money goes to office parasites. The whole set-up is a bureaucratic rip-off.

And yet if we take Grigorishin’s next step and ask who contributes the most value to the sport? Who attracts the most attention? Who is it that newspapers and TV want to know about? The answer of course is that the value of swimming without Hunter or Mains, or Fa’amausili, or Perry or Godwin or a dozen others would be zero. It begs the obvious question – how come those who provide 100% the value only get 7% of the reward? That is the very essence of corruption. That is why Grigorishin’s 50% rule has so much appeal. Athletes would still only be getting half their value but that’s 700% better than they get now.

The crisis in swimming at FINA and at SNZ starts at the top. In New Zealand that means it starts with Cotterill, Johns and Francis. They run a business that scores at the bottom of the league in social responsibility, internal accountability and control, democratic processes and transparency. Delegates from the Regions know that this is the case. They know it needs to be changed. And yet year after year they do nothing. Cotterill, Francis and Johns go on unchecked because those who know better are not calling them to account.

Just as it is the National Federation’s responsibility to call FINA to account, it is the Regions responsibility to correct the corruption in Antares Place. It is their responsibility to challenge and remove people and cultures and practices that are wholly unacceptable.

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