Julio Maglione, right, has insisted he will serve a full third term as FINA President ©FINA

Re-elected International Swimming Federation (FINA) President Julio Maglione has promised to serve a full four-year term in office after criticising the concept of age limits in sport.

Beaten rival Paolo Barelli warned that it is the Uruguayan's responsibility to resolve the "infection" which he claimed is affecting the world governing body before it is too late.

Both men were speaking after a FINA Congress here today where 81-year-old Maglione triumphed by 258 votes to 77.

Maglione, first elected President to replace Algeria's Mustapha Larfaoui in 2009, is now expected to serve until shortly before his 86th birthday in 2021.

He was only permitted to stand again after engineering an extension to term limits in 2015 and a statute change requiring that all members of the ruling FINA Bureau must be under 80.

"I am feeling very well and I respect the decision of FINA," Maglione, an honorary member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) after passing the maximum age limit of 80, said. 

"The decision of the Assembly of FINA decides not to have age limits. 

"None of the continental or national organisations have a limit of age, including the Italian Federation. 

"I do not agree with the decision of the limit of 80 years.

"I think the people agree, they tell me, 'We love what you are doing'.

"The IOC do not establish for other organisations any obligations about the age.

"ASOIF (Association of Summer Olympic International Federations) and all the National Federations do not have limit of age."

Julio Maglione has a different view of age limits to the IOC, whose President Thomas Bach, left, arrived here this evening ©Getty Images
Julio Maglione has a different view of age limits to the IOC, whose President Thomas Bach, left, arrived here this evening ©Getty Images

The IOC has age limits of 80 for members appointed until 1999 and 70 for those joining later.

A maximum of five exceptions, however, are permitted by the IOC once the limit of 70 is reached. 

There had been speculation that Maglione would step down as President midway through his term to make way for Husain Al-Musallam, the Kuwaiti re-elected the position of senior vice-president today.

The Uruguayan has vowed, though, he will serve a full four-year term.

"You must be crazy," he responded when asked if he could cut his term short.

"I was elected for four years.

"I respect the [FINA] Assembly and Federations that voted for me and I feel a responsibility to be here for four years."

Maglione claimed that today's election was an example of "democracy, 100 per cent" before promising further measures to make FINA a "more clear and more open" body.

Barelli, holding a separate press conference alongside colleagues from the European Swimming League (LEN), which he leads, claimed FINA must make more substantial changes in order to survive.

The Italian Senator had run an aggressive campaign during which he repeatedly criticised FINA's governance and leading figures.

Enhanced spending on development and anti-doping were two areas he cited today.

"The risk is infection and going to hospital, where you can either die or stay some months or some days," he answered when asked what will happen to FINA if reforms are not realised.

"An infection has entered our [FINA's] body and we must find a way to resolve it.

"The only thing that can happen is to promote good governance."

Barelli appeared to implicitly blame Al-Musallam for many of FINA's problems.

"The person who is guiding FINA is not Julio," he said without elaborating.

"The person is someone else."

Barelli questioned why Kuwait remains suspended from the body for Government interference but other nations in a supposedly similar position, such as Brazil, are not. 

Al-Musallam is opposed to the factions now influencing Kuwaiti sport from the Government side.

Paolo Barelli, front second left, gave a separate press conference to the official FINA one alongside LEN colleagues today ©ITG
Paolo Barelli, front second left, gave a separate press conference to the official FINA one alongside LEN colleagues today ©ITG

During a bitter final week of campaigning Al-Musallam was forced to deny wrongdoing following reports he requested a 10 per cent cut of sponsorship deals in his capacity as director general of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA).

Barelli joked "FINA get 10 per cent" when a curtain fell during his press conference today.

It was pointed out that FINA have still not "transparently" explained on what grounds why Al-Musallam was allowed to participate in today's election after calls for him to be barred due to Kuwait's suspension.

FINA ruled earlier this week that there was no reason for him not to participate.

Al-Musallam has also rejected any wrongdoing after being seemingly identified as a co-conspirator in a United States Department of Justice (DoJ) investigation into widespread corruption at FIFA.

A DoJ indictment published in relation to the case concerning Guam's Richard Lai, who admitted receiving nearly $1 million (£773,000/€915,000) in bribes, outlines "co-conspirator number three" as a "a high-ranking official of the OCA and an official of the Kuwait Football Association (KFA)".

Al-Musallam has denied suggestions he was involved after he appeared to have been identified by the DoJ as "co-conspirator number two", is director general of the OCA and a key member of the Kuwait Football Association.

"It’s only allegations," Al-Musallam, a member of the IOC Olympic Solidarity Commission the right-hand man of OCA and Association of National Olympic Committees President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, said after the Congress.

"The OCA and FINA Ethics Committee did the investigation and there was no wrongdoing.

"People think I am bad, people think I am good, this is normal.

"We are human at the end of the day.

"Let’s enjoy and celebrate the Championships

"All the countries voted for me - there was not a single objection.

"I have no problem with anyone in FINA or LEN, we are one family."

  • Sheikh Ahmad and IOC President Thomas Bach each attended a FINA Gala Dinner held after the Congress.