Adam Peaty: International Swimming League is revolutionising swimming

Adam Peaty
Adam Peaty is the world record holder in 50m and 100m breaststroke

Olympic champion Adam Peaty says the International Swimming League is revolutionising the sport after 25 years of "doing it wrong".

The last leg of the fast-paced, franchise-based league takes place on 23 and 24 November, with four of the eight teams from Europe and the United States competing at a sold-out London Aquatics Centre to secure a place in the finals in Las Vegas in December.

Fina, the sport's governing body, initially indicated it could ban athletes who took part in the ISL, but backtracked on the threat in January this year following a furious reaction from Peaty and many of his fellow elite swimmers.

Peaty, who swims for London Roar, told BBC Sport the new privately-backed format was "exciting and dynamic" and just what swimming needed following its launch last month.

"It's no longer about how we keep the current fans happy, they will be happy whatever," he said. "It's about how we target ourselves to a new audience and how we grow the sport because swimming is one of the most watched sports at the Olympics.

"We need to fill that gap between every four years and make it every winter and every season - whatever it takes."

Fina executive director Cornel Marculescu insisted, in a statement, that, despite the high-profile dispute when the ISL was mooted, it "welcomes any new partner interested in developing aquatics" and that the ISL "clearly demonstrates the great value and growing interest in our sport".

Marculescu said that the Fina Athletes Committee means swimmers are now involved in the decision-making process and the organisation has a "robust" development programme which is helping lead strategy from elite to grassroots level.

He added that their own recently launched Champions Swim Series shows its "dedication to developing the sport in an exciting, rewarding but also sustainable way", and was now working closely with swimmers through its Athletes Committee.

Peaty said his previous, very vocal, criticism of Fina was purely driven by a desire to put things right.

"Ideally you want the governing body to work with the athletes," he added. "But when that doesn't happen you leave us no option but to stand up and say 'this is wrong'.

"We have been doing it wrong for 25-30 years. You are not growing the sport, you are not targeting the new audience. The same format has been happening since before I was even born. The time is up for the governing bodies to change. The ISL will come in and sweep everything up.

"It has taken the ISL to wake up Fina to prove that we need something else, a different stimulus a different format and not racing for yourself and racing for your country. It will take a few seasons to find the footing, see what the audience wants, see what TV wants and try to sell it."

Adam Peaty
Adam Peaty is an Olympic, world, Commonwealth and European champion

Peaty said the ISL is probably one of the "most exciting things" he has done in the sport, ripping up the standard lengthy format of heat after heat and then finals in a competition that runs for hours.

Action, action, action

He said the ISL would take time to build its fan base but the innovation was vital to meet the changing demands and expectations from fans, citing the Diamond League in athletics and T20 cricket as examples of how sport can, and should, evolve.

"The ISL has changed things," he said. "It's a two-hour block session a day with intense action sprints and relays only. It's a different dynamic and exactly what the sport needs. Other sports are modernising to cater for the younger audience.

"It's fast, fast, fast and action, action, action. No one wants to be sitting there for seven hours. You want intense action with the world's best stars and that's exactly what the ISL is."

ISL owner and financial backer Konstantin Grigorishin has said he is investing more than £17m in the new venture and the zero tolerance policy on drugs has been widely welcomed.

No swimmer that has ever tested positive for banned substances has been allowed to sign up, and there is also equal prize money for men and women.

"We are in a very interesting time in the sport - and in any sport," Peaty said. "People have had enough of doping, people have had enough of cheating, of no transparency, of inequality. The athletes know that they are the entertainment and they control the sport."

Many of the world's best swimmers have been angered by having to compete alongside athletes who have tested positive for taking banned substances.

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'You're a loser, I'm a winner' - ugly scenes as GB's Scott refuses to share podium with Sun

Britain's Duncan Scott refused to share the podium with China's controversial gold medallist Sun Yang after winning bronze in the 200m freestyle at the World Aquatics Championships in July, as did Australia's Mack Horton, who finished runner-up to Sun in the 400m freestyle.

Sun served a three-month ban in 2014 after testing positive for banned stimulant trimetazidine and Horton's protests saw him warned about his conduct by Fina.

Marculescu said Fina's anti-doping rules are "fully compliant" with the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) code on transparency and confidentiality for athletes subject to ongoing disciplinary procedures, adding that an it had an anti-doping service agreement with the independent International Testing Agency (ITA).

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