LEN – Entering the era of Integrity and Transparency (part 2)

Hello everydoby. In the first part of the LEN – Entering the era of Integrity and Transparency series I started to write about a video that was posted on the official youtube page of Len – European Aquatics called „The Road to Better Sport Governance: A Case Study from European Aquatics”. The mentioned video was made for an event hosted by SIGA Sport. An organization for good governance and integrity. SIGA is big on integrity. Check the first part here. https://www.dance.hr/kolumne/gostujuce-kolumne/len-entering-the-era-of-integrity-and-transparency-part1.html . Today we will continue analyzing this conversation and its participants. If you found the first part a bit boring and dry, brace yourself. We about to get wet.

The moderator of this conversation, Nick Davies, introduces the president of the Danish Swimming Federation Pia Johanson.

Nick Davies: (15:01) “I’d like to introduce Pia Johanson, and Pia is going to talk about the detailed focus on integrity and the ethics code. If you wouldn’t mind introducing yourself very briefly. About background in the sport, I know you’re also the Danish Federation and the work you’re doing in this area and then please you can carry on with your presentation”

Pia Johanson: (15:35) “I am president of the Danish swimming Federation and I have been there since April 2021. I was selected a bureau member together with you guys and when Antonio was elected president in February 22. In the Danish Federation we have been working with a new culture, a new strategy. A new way of doing things and I’m of course taking this into the work I’m doing at LEN and in my civil career. What I’m going to talk about is the LEN Integrity code. I was asked from the beginning if I wanted to be the first point of contact towards the independent hotline” 

LEN integrity code is basically the process they will use to define what integrity and all other key words mean within the European Aquatics, who will define it, how will they maintain it and how will they use this code as main principles of good behavior, integrity etc. Not precisely that, but more or less that is description of the job that Pia Johansen has been assigned. I was able to find out a little bit more about Pia on the official website of the Danish swimming federation. https://www.svoem.org/Om-unionen/Bestyrelsen/#

Pia M. Johansen was elected chairman of SvømDanmark at the general meeting in 2021.
Since 2011, Pia has been part of Silkeborg Svømmeklub’s board of directors as deputy chairman, finance manager and personnel manager. In 2018, she was elected president of the club. Pia’s three, now grown-up children, have all been competitive swimmers in Silkeborg Swimming Club – and as a result, Pia has completed a multitude of different tasks as a volunteer. There she has experienced a completely unique community and at the same time gained deep insight into both the K-culture and the other water communities, which are also found in many of SwimDanmark’s other member clubs.
Pia has a background as a MSc. and in his civilian life holds an interdisciplinary position at middle management level in Eurowind Asset Management A/S. Eurowind is an internationally oriented company that develops and operates green energy projects in Europe and the USA”

As we can all read Pia seems like a very capable lady. I don’t know where she finds the time to fit European Aquatics obligations into her busy schedule. In her civil work she works with green energy projects what actually makes her a very good fit for this new corporate culture of waterpolo. Green energy, just like LEN European Aquatics, are sustained with a lot of help from the governments. (bad-um bash) A little joke. One must also add that according to this survey which Danish swimming federation did in the period from November 2018 until March 2019. Taking into account the various types of facilities and visitors, during the year 2018 around 34.5 million guests have visited 344 swimming facilities in Denmark. https://www.thelocal.dk/20190424/why-danes-love-swimming-more-than-you-think . For a country that has around 5.8 million people. Not bad numbers. I don’t know how did they calculated these numbers after doing the survey for only 5 winter months, but I guess they know more than I do.

Pia Johanson: (16:38) “and part of that was also making a LEN Integrity code. Of course there was something before, but we needed to restart and needed to make a culture change. So that’s why we kind of wanted to start from the very beginning. We started the independent hotline right away because we wanted to be there for the athletes. We wanted to show that this was a very important task and I think that has been a very good choice. We had regular meetings with World Aquatics and their ethics officer in this field and that has given a lot of a very good discussions. And also it has been very easy to be aligned all the way. (18:16) we started designing a blueprint and this was presented in the Congress in Cascais in May 22. (19:21) this is a lot about transparency. (19:36) one of the big things about having an Integrity code is that everyone knows how they are expected to behave”

Cascais is a town somewhere in Portugal. Don’t get me wrong. I want you all to visit beautiful places. I want you to go to the most beautiful place to speak about waterpolo and its future. I want you to feel all the fruits of your labor. I want you to travel and see new places and expand your horizons. And with that being said, a lot of European Aquatics events keep happening in Portugal in the last 18 months. And do you know who has their headquarters also in Portugal? SIGA Europe. https://siga-sport.com/contact-us/

And when they speak about an independent hotline, or an integrity unit, they mean this https://integrityunit.com/europeanaquatics-integrity-hotline/ .

Quote from the webpage:

If you would like to report any wrongdoing or a suspected breach of any governance, ethics or integrity regulations or provisions of European Aquatics, you can use the form below to report details, email europeanaquatics@integrityunit.com or call +44(0) 207 034 3405 to leave a confidential message.

Any material reported will be treated in strict confidence. The information will be seen by Quest Global Ltd only and will be used solely for the investigation and follow-up related to any integrity issues reported. Your identity will not be disclosed to anyone except the Quest Global Ltd professionals responsible for following up on your report, unless you provide explicit consent for it to be disclosed to someone else.”

So from now on if you have something that you want to say. You now have the opportunity and the means. You had it before also, but you just did not know about it. If you want to read more about the European Aquatics Integrity Unit and early hiccups they had while implementing this hotline, the integrity unit, I would advise you to read this article from the web page called The State of Swimming: https://www.stateofswimming.com/len-integrity-hotline-needs-sharper-tone/ . And if you want to know more about SIGA Sport and LEN you can also read an article published on the same web page https://www.stateofswimming.com/european-swimming-adopts-siga-standards-what-it-might-mean-for-integrity-governance/ . But don’t be fooled by this writer. This web page is just another puzzle piece working for interests much bigger than the newly reformed aquatic organizations, as we will see by the end of this article. As we can see in the following article which was published on 4th of September 2023:

“Following extensive consultation and deliberations, the World Aquatics Bureau today unanimously decided on a set of criteria that would allow aquatics athletes with Russian and Belarusian passports to participate in future World Aquatics competitions as Neutral Individual” https://www.worldaquatics.com/news/3671042/world-aquatics-bureau-approves-participation-of-individual-neutral-athletes-under-strict-new-criteria .

This weekend, 16th of September, another European Aquatics gathering happened on a small and faraway little island of Madeira, Portugal. Enjoy the fruits of your labor. Probably the most expensive plane ticket in the whole of Europe, but you deserved it. And a writer from web page State of Swimming had this major scoop on his hands:

“The most significant announcement at the annual gathering of the European Aquatics regulator in Madeira this weekend was missing from the official press release: the old Continent is sticking to its guns and will not be letting Russians and Belarussians back into the competitive fold in line with the tendency at World Aquatics and the International Olympic Committee.” https://www.stateofswimming.com/european-aquatics-stands-firm-with-ukraine-against-tide-of-ioc-compromise-bar-on-russia-remains/

How does he know something that has not been published anywhere yet? I read the European Aquatics statement, I googled it around and just like he mentioned in the opening statement. This announcement was missing.

And just to spice things up a bit. This is the video of support for president Antonio Silva from Vladimir Salnikom, the president of the Russian swimming federation from 1st of February 2022 https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=5162733767104677

I will just leave you with this information and you make what you want from it. Time to continue with the article.

20:26 Nick Davies: “yeah I mean yeah, what’s very interesting to me here. Uhm you know this process of engaging people, bringing them with you, I think is really interesting you know. you mentioned the athletes which I think is is fundamental um but also the technical committees other members of The Bureau”

Its sometimes very difficult to accurately quote the people from this conversation and make sense. To most of them English is not their first language, and secondly none of them are having an actual conversation. They are all just repeating key words, different notes, or whole speeches that they wrote down prior to coming in front of a camera. There has been a lot of uhms and repeating of words and sometimes a clumsy way of formulating a sentence, but all manageable. With the British speaking moderator was a bit different. I understand that you have to watch out what to say and that not everybody feels comfortable, or even confident in front of a camera, but with him you could somehow feel that he is saying stuff which he has to say, but doesn’t mean it. He gives a feel of a very bad poker player. When he just said “the athletes which I think is is fundamental” and then he fixed his glasses in a very telling way. And this is not the first time I noticed on him that. All the participants of this conversation had some way of nervousness and uneasiness about them at certain points, but with him was different. Always some weird move, at certain times. Lets google this Nick Davies guy. Since when has he been at the LEN anyways? Googles Nick Davies waterpolo. Scrolls. Scrolls. Scrolls… uhm? Is this for real? Googles Nick Davies IAAF. Scrolls. Clicks an article. Reads an article. Scrolls. Clicks an article. Reads an article. Scrolls. Clicks an article. Reads an article… and that lasted for some time. Its safe to say that our moderator for the day Mr. Nick Davies has some skeletons in his closet.

First of all I was not able to find out any official statement about when Mr.Nick Davies has officially started to work as a Communications Director for LEN, but I found out that he used to work IAAF, now called World Athletics. And I found out he got kicked out by the Ethics Board of the World Aquatics, formerly known as IAAF. There is a lot of material to read on this topic, because it was a big scandal, but I will just share with you few quotes from some of the web pages that have written on this topic and try to paint you the picture of his situation. And if you ask yourself why am I doing this. Can’t you read the title?

„A decision by the Ethics Board of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has highlighted a cash culture within athletics’ governing body where it was not unusual for staff members to be given large amounts of money in envelopes to cover official business – a culture that apparently still existed in August 2015. In a decision (PDF below) published yesterday, the IAAF Ethics Board decided to ban Nick Davies, Director of IAAF President Sebastian Coe’s office from the IAAF for life, but allowed his wife, Jane Boulter-Davies and Dr. Pierre-Yves Garnier to return to work immediately, after issuing them with backdated bans.“

When you read the opening paragraph of this article it sounds a bit more than it is, but it is still a lot. But if you would to read the decision which was made by the Ethics Board on the page 40 you would find the following statements:

“56. We determine that the appropriate sanction to be imposed upon Mr Davies for his admitted breaches is an order for expulsion from his position with the IAAF pursuant to paragraph 17 (iii) of Section D (Sanctions) of the Statutes. From the date of publication of this decision, subject to any specific modalities of Mr Davies’ contract of employment under the governing law of Monaco, Mr Davies is therefore expelled from his position with the IAAF with immediate effect.

57. Taking into account that Mr Davies has admitted a serious error of judgment and has reflected upon and sincerely apologized for that error, we have not determined it appropriate to ban Mr Davies from taking part in other Athletics related activities pursuant to paragraph 17 (iv) of Section D of the Statutes. Mr Davies is therefore free to seek employment elsewhere in the sport and to be involved in IAAF organized competitions and activities in any new capacity which he assumes within the sport.”

IAAF statement

Following a full and thorough investigation by the IAAF Ethics Board into three IAAF employees, the IAAF has taken the following actions with respect to Nick Davies, Jane Boulter-Davies and Pierre-Yves Garnier.  All three have received sanctions by the Ethics Board with Pierre-Yves Garnier (3 months) and Jane Boulter-Davies (6 months) having served their suspensions. The sanction imposed on Nick Davies is that he does not return to his role or any other role at the IAAF. He is, however, able to continue to work in athletics in other roles within other organisations.“ https://worldathletics.org/news/press-release/ethics-board-decision-nick-jill-davies-garnie

I am pretty sure that a big percentage of you did not know that the new name of the world athletic federation is World Athletics. And do you know why did the IAAF decided to change its name to World Athletics? If you were to put some money on Mr. Davies having to do something with it, you would be right. It’s not fair to say that just because of the scandal that had Mr.Davies in the British newspapers the IAAF decided to change their whole identity and culture and everything, but the scandal that he played his role in was the last drop. And if you think that World Aquatics and World Athletics sound just too similar. We are in the same boat. In the next article you will find a couple explanations for it.


“Nick Davies, former chief of staff to IAAF president Sebastian Coe, has been expelled from athletics’ governing body after he admitted taking payments to help cover up Russian doping and then misleading the ethics investigation into the issue.

Despite his admission of receiving €30,000 in illicit payments and denying it until exposed by his bank statements, he is free to continue working in athletics after an ethics committee report released on Tuesday said he had not acted corruptly.”


Here is one more article about it:


And we could go on and on about this situation. A lot of articles were written about this scandal and one thing I don’t understand. How did this Davies bloke got his job as a Communications Director for LEN? After scrolling through a lot of athletic articles, I finally found one from LEN, now known as European Aquatics, and on it says this about Mr. Nick Davies:

„Nick Davies has close to 30 years professional experience in Olympic sport, including senior roles as Communications Director, Spokesman, Deputy CEO and Chief of Staff at the International Association of Athletics Federations (now World Athletics) from 1992 to 2017. Originally a sport journalist, Nick has worked with clients from a wide range of sports including MMA, Boxing, Sailing, Ice Hockey, F1, Tennis, Cricket, and sport shooting offering strategic advice, campaign support and project management.

As LEN Communications’ Director, Nick is responsible for managing a LEN team to deliver:

External PR for LEN corporate and competition-based activities

Internal PR with stakeholders including National Federations and sponsor/broadcast partners.

LEN Digital Platforms (LEN website and social media)

LEN copyright content for digital platforms.

Brand building via international media.

Ongoing media relations with key aquatics and Olympic media.

Ongoing monitoring of LEN related stories and issues.

Ongoing support for LEN event, commercial, marketing and broadcast divisions.

Working relationships with FINA, EOC, IOC and other stakeholders.”

One has to wonder. If someone was to send all of this information about Mr.Davies to that hotline for integrity? Would they have to do something about it? I don’t know, but I do know that the second part of the LEN – Entering the Era of Transparency and Integrity series is now over. Join me again in a couple of days with the third installment of LEN – Entering the Era of Transparency and Integrity series. If I was to tell you that there are even more interesting facts coming up in the third part would you believe me? We will end this article with our last quote from the video for today.

Pia Johanson: (21:01) “Because transparency was a very important thing uh for Antonio so integrity and transparency and democracy and that means that we have to discuss and we have to uh also understand what what do we mean I mean what is it to be transparent”