What Were The Referees Watching?!?

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Sometimes, we really do not understand why open water swimming referees make disqualifications or give yellow cards or red cards. But then when we see such a fragrant violation of basic open water swimming impeding rules like the example above from the 39th 16 km Faros Maratón, we REALLY do not understand why some open water swimming referees do not give red cards. At the end of the Faros Maratón in Croatia, Head referee Milovoj Mirasavac judged that both Vlodymer Voronko of Ukraine and Xavier Desharnais of Canada tied.

However, it is very clear to us that Vlodymer Voronko (swimmer on the right in the dark swim cap) put his arm around the shoulders of Xavier Desharnais (on left in the light swim cap) and impeded his forward motion. This impeding is a clear violation of standard open water swimming rules, and is especially easy to call at the end of the race when all eyes of the media, fans and officials are watching the athletes.

Although the dunk and push-back was not intentional, intention should have nothing to do with the fact that one athlete gained a significant advantage over the other athletes. Unfortunately, the official in the best position to make the call wanted to put Desharnais in third position. While another referee on the boat to the right of the swimmers called for a disqualification. The referee who wanted to place Desharnais in third place said that Desharnais hit Voronko first and that Voronko was in front so there is no difference and third place was the appropriate position for the Canadian swimmer.

Desharnais had to argue with the referee who made this decision, explaining that the impeding started earlier. Finally, the head referee called for a gentlemen’s tie.

In our opinion, intent should not be part of the decision-making process of a referee. It is impossible for a referee to know what an athlete is thinking. If an athlete impedes another athlete by pushing down or pulling back, then the athlete should be given a yellow card or red card – no matter what his or her intent.

The result of their action should be the primary issue for the referees – not the athlete’s intent.

That is, if one athlete gains an advantage over another athlete due to impedance or unsportsmanlike conduct, then the athlete should be called for a foul – no matter what their intent, reason or excuse.

Fair is fair and the sport of open water swimming deserves to be called fairly, objectively and uniformly.

The official men’s results from the 2014 Faros Maratón are below:

1. Matteo Furlan (Italy) 3:10:15
2. Vlodymer Voronko (Ukraine) 3:11:56
2. Xavier Desharnais (Canada) 3:11:56
4. Mark Deans (Scotland) 3:14:03
5. Adel Ragab El Behary (Egypt) 3:19:20
6. Vit Ingeduld (Czech Republic) 3:19:43
7. Marin Milan (Croatia) 3:19:49
8. Duje Milan (Croatia) 3:19:50
9. Daniel Szekely (Hungary) 3:33:07
10. Dino Špadina (Croatia) 3:43:23
11. Jose Luis Larrosa (Spain) 3:45:14
12. Drazen Adzic (Croatia) 4:06:40
13. Josip Aralica (Croatia) 4:08:21
14. Fernando Dario Ciarramela (Argentina) 4:11:57
15. Jernej Velickovic (Slovenia) 4:17:00
16. Goran Popovic (Croatia) 4:24:18
17. Filip Erceg (Croatia) 4:49:00
18. Neven Pedišić (Croatia) 4:49:17

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones