LAUSANNE, Switzerland — Cornel Marculescu, the executive director of swimming’s governing body FINA, resigned Wednesday after 35 years in charge in which the sport transformed its commercial appeal but was often troubled by doping.
A former Olympic water polo player for Romania, Marculescu took charge at FINA during the steroid-soaked 1980s, when East German swimmers dominated in the pool in what was later revealed to be a vast state-run doping scheme.
Over the following four decades, he helped introduce a wide range of often lucrative new events around the world in the various aquatic sports under FINA such as swimming, diving, artistic swimming and water polo. FINA is also among the sports with the largest shares of Olympic TV revenue.
However, FINA has faced criticism for a lack of transparency, placing among the lowest-rated federations in a survey of governance and integrity published last year by the umbrella body for summer Olympic sports.
The sport was repeatedly shaken by doping cases in recent years, including evidence that Russia operated a scheme to cover up performance-enhancing drug use across multiple sports and a still-unresolved case against Chinese Olympic champion Sun Yang for allegedly obstructing a drug test.
FINA said its ruling bureau accepted Marculescu’s resignation in an online meeting Wednesday and praised his “outstanding devotion” to the sport. FINA said his longtime deputy Marcela Saxlund Medvedev would take over his job on an interim basis. FINA president Julio Maglione is also due to step down this year after 12 years when his current term in office ends.