Mustapha Larfaoui led World Aquatics between 1988 and 2009 before being appointed Honorary Life President ©World Aquatics

Mustapha Larfaoui, the longest-serving leader in World Aquatics' history, has been axed as Honorary Life President of the organisation in what is being framed as a cost-saving measure.

The Algerian official led the worldwide governing body for more than two decades after taking charge in 1988 following a 12-year period as vice-president.

After opting not to run for another term in 2009, Larfaoui was awarded the role of Honorary Life President by his successor Julio Maglione of Uruguay.

Larfaoui has held the position for the past 13 years but has now been cut as part of a series of reforms implemented by World Aquatics.

The 90-year-old is an honorary member of the International Olympic Committee having served as a member from 1995 until 2009.

Maglione, who was in charge of World Aquatics between 2009 and 2021, has also lost the title of Honorary Life President but will remain involved in the governing body as the "immediate past President".

Husain Al-Musallam, who succeeded Maglione as head of the organisation last year, said there was "still room" for the role of Honorary Life President but stressed the need for keeping a tight rein on World Aquatics’ finances.

Julio Maglione is set to remain involved at World Aquatics as the
Julio Maglione is set to remain involved at World Aquatics as the "immediate past President" after losing his Honorary Life President title ©Getty Images

"We need people who can work actively for World Aquatics, not as honorary," Al-Musallam told insidethegames.

"We have the power to give the [Honorary Life President] title but without privilege.

"We have the past President position as the immediate past President is there.

"If we have the immediate past President, that's enough.

"There is no need to incur more costs with the same privileges as the other active Bureau members."

World Aquatics is forecasting a net loss of $32.6 million (£26.5 million/€30.7 million) for the year ending in just two weeks' time, with just under half - $15.5 million (£12.6 million/€14.6 million) - attributable to expected financial losses.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the fallout of the war in Ukraine and the re-assignment of World Championships have been cited by World Aquatics as the reasons for the loss.

Larfaoui is a founding member of the Algerian Swimming Federation, Algerian National Olympic Committee and the African Swimming Confederation.

He joined the World Aquatics, formerly known as the International Swimming Federation, Bureau as a member in 1972 before stepping up to be vice-president in 1976 and then President in 1988.

During his tenure, Larfaoui was accused of leaking confidential information about Australian five-time Olympic champion Ian Thorpe's doping test results.

Thorpe has never tested positive and has denied allegations he cheated.