Back in September, in pre-competition training prior to the AIDA Depth World Championships in Cyprus, there was an error by the judges and organizers that caused a competition line to be set 10m too deep for French Freediving hero Guillaume Nery during a World Record attempt. This caused him to be hit with a lung squeeze and knocked him out medically for the World Championships.
There was immediate fall out with several judges temporarily suspended from the judging committee at the World Championships and an AIDA Disciplinary Committee investigation set into motion.
The committee has now issued their report and decisions regarding the issues related to the dive in question. The decisions announced are:
- Judge Ute Gessmann demoted to a lower level judge for a period of one year, from judge AI to judge B. The committee decided that Gessmann had been at fault in her responsibility as a judge in the water when setting the depth.
- Judge Savvas Savva demoted to a lower level judge for a period of one year, from judge D to judge E. The committee decided that Savva was also at fault as part of his responsibilities as second judge. This was down to combining both Organizer and Judge responsibilities that distracted Savva at a critical moment.
- Judge Robert King was not at fault despite receiving critism immediately following the incident. King had been responsible for the other line (Line B) at the time and had no responsibility or ability to influence the setting of the line set wrongly.
King, also an AIDA Vice-President, felt the criticism he received was unfair and had resigned his post as Vice-President, pending results from this committee. The committee and AIDA Assembly have asked King to return to his post however has declined the offer due to other commitments.
The Disciplinary Committee has also issued a number of recommendations to the AIDA board to stop this sort of issue happening again:
- clarify the responsibilities of setting the line and establish a standard procedure for the double-checking of lines by judges;
- standardize line marking for all competitions with the use of the same depth indication marks and the same method of marking;
- clarify the rules that the effective depth of sonar must be deeper than the deepest dive;
- revise the Judge Operating Procedure to state that it is prohibited to take the responsibility of both organizer and judge in competitions with world record status.
You can read the formal statement by AIDA President Kimmo Lahtinen on the AIDA Facebook Group.