USA Swimming opposes Abu Dhabi race

By Paul Newberry ,AP

More than four years after the death of open water star Fran Crippen, swimming’s international governing body plans to hold a World Cup race in the United Arab Emirates.

The United States is not happy about that decision.

USA Swimming opposes the March 13 event in Abu Dhabi, saying it was ��disappointed�� that FINA decided to return to a country where Crippen died during an open water race in October 2010.

American swimmers could still choose to compete in the 10-kilometer race, but the national organization will not provide any financial assistance or support personnel. That makes it highly unlikely that any U.S. athlete will make the trip to the Middle East.

��The U.S. swimming family is still mourning the death of Fran Crippen,�� said Chuck Wielgus, the executive director of USA Swimming. The organization ��has no plans to support or send athletes to the UAE for this event.��

An autopsy found the 26-year-old Crippen died from drowning and heat exhaustion, though it didn’t exclude other factors. Due to organizational shortcomings, no one noticed initially when the swimmer from suburban Philadelphia disappeared. His body was found by divers two hours later.

FINA defends the decision to put Abu Dhabi on the World Cup calendar, saying it would be unfair to bar the country from ever hosting another open water race.

��We cannot banish a federation for life,�� executive director Cornel Marculescu told The Associated Press on Thursday.

He stressed that the March event is dependent on there being no issues at a test event the previous month, which is restricted to local swimmers and will be held under the supervision of FINA’s open water technical committee.

��If that goes well,�� Marculescu said, ��then we will have the world series event in March.��

While many swimmers complained that oppressive heat contributed to Crippen’s death, Marculescu noted that the autopsy did not exclude that a heart abnormality or ��uncontrolled exercise-induced asthma�� in unfavorable race conditions could have been factors.

��Even today, we don’t know why he died,�� Marculescu said.