July 4, 2017 / 12:53 PM / 2 years ago

Swimming: Hungary's Hosszu forms new pro swimmers' association

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungarian swimmer and Olympic champion Katinka Hosszu said on Tuesday she had founded a professional swimmers association with 30 initial members, a move to give athletes more say in how the sport is run and a greater share of profits.

FILE PHOTO Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu flips her hair at a training session in Budapest, Hungary July 15, 2015. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh/File photo

Hosszu last month called on fellow swimmers to band together ahead of the 2017 World Championships in Hungary. She raised the possibility of boycotting global competitions.

The main issue, she said at the time, was giving athletes more of a say in rule changes and getting them a fair share of the proceeds, especially from global events that draw millions of viewers.

The 28 year-old Hungarian, who won three Olympic golds in Rio, earned more than $1 million in the past three seasons as she thoroughly dominated the FINA professional series. It makes her one of the few to cash in on her skill in the sport.

Her success came fairly late in her career after she joined forces with her U.S. husband-and-coach, Shane Tussup.

Dozens of top athletes answered her call within two weeks, Hosszu wrote on Tuesday in a post on her Facebook page, prompting her to establish the Global Association of Professional Swimmers (GAPS) and invite more athletes to join.

“We believe that athletes are essential to a successful sport,” a statement on GAPS’ web site swimmingprofessionals.org says. “Athletes should have a say in how their sport is formed and how the rules are changed. Right now our sport’s leaders are not involving us in these rule changes.”

Alongside Hosszu, the 30 members of GAPS include 15 Olympic champions from all continents, she wrote. Names include British breaststroker Adam Peaty, Australian freestyler Bronte Campbell and others.

“We now rightfully expect that leaders of FINA will give us a seat at the table. We expect swimmers to be treated as equal partners... in important decisions about the future of our sport,” Hosszu said.

A spokesman for FINA, the global swimming body, declined to comment. FINA director Cornel Marculescu last month said Hosszu’s call for action was an “anti-FINA open letter.”

Other groups have also challenged FINA for the governance of the sport, including the World Swimming Association.

Reporting by Marton Dunai

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