Sunday, June 16, 2024

Judge orders sports commission to fund national artistic swim team

A judge has ordered the National Commission for Physical Culture and Sport (Conade) to fund the national women’s artistic swim team after the government agency withdrew financial support from the team earlier this year. 

Mexico City judge Agustín Tello Espíndola ruled on Tuesday that Conade must immediately restore the swim team’s stipends, access to sports facilities and all other financial support that the sports commission previously withdrew. The artistic swimming team consists of 11 swimmers, two coaches and a team doctor.

The swim team shows off their gold medals won at the Artistic Swimming World Cup in Egypt in May. (@artswimmexico/Instagram)

“It is appropriate to grant the requested precautionary measure so that government support and incentives continue to be received in the same way that they were received previously; that is, monetarily and through access to facilities provided for the development of their activity,” Tello said. 

The judge’s measure serves as temporary protection for the swim team until a June 12 hearing hands down a final decision regarding the swim team’s continued financial support.  

Conade chief Ana Guevara withdrew the funding in January after the sport’s global governing body World Aquatics refused to recognize former Mexican Swimming Federation (FMN) president Kiril Todorov, who was facing accusations of embezzlement (he has since been charged). 

In a meeting with the team, Guevara told the athletes to advocate for Todorov or risk losing their financial support. 

Ana Guevara, chief of Conade, told team members in January that they’d lose financial support if they didn’t advocate for the former president of the Mexican Swimming Federation during his embezzlement trial. (Daniel Augusto/Cuartoscuro)

Nuria Diosdado, a team member present at the meeting, confronted Todorov, noting his absence since he became president of the FMN three years earlier. 

“We athletes are being told to ‘go advocate’ when we haven’t even seen you in three years,” Diosdado said. 

In 2022, World Aquatics established a stabilization committee in Mexico to assume the FMN’s duties following Todorov’s indictment. According to Guevara, the team’s funding must now be funneled through the committee, but Conade must first grant legal standing to the new administrative body, which it hasn’t done.  

In May, the dispute escalated when the team said the government failed to adequately fund their trip to the Artistic Swimming World Cup in Egypt, where they won gold medals, and had to resort to selling bathing suits and towels. 

In preparation for the World Cup, the team sold towels and swimsuits. The Telmex Foundation also donated just over $1 million pesos ($57,500) toward their trip. (@artswimmexico/Instagram)

Guevara lashed out at the accusations, noting that the team had received funding but had previously misused its resources. She said that the team did not account for 2 million pesos (US $115,000) from 2016–2018. 

The team’s legal complaint said that their 2022 Budapest World Cup performance entitled them to monthly stipends and other resources necessary to compete in the 2023 Central American and Pan American Games and participate in lead-up events to the 2024 Paris Olympics, as dictated by Conade’s regulations. 

With reports from Proceso, AS Mexico and Latinus

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