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Stephane Mifsud 8'24': SAD NEWS

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Well-Known Member
Mar 2, 2001
Friends of the freediving world, once again there is sad news to report about the development of our sport. Stephane Mifsud has informed me that AIDA will not recognize his 8'24" static record. For those who don't know the whole story, Mifsud's record, (like Annabel's), was accepted by the two AIDA judges on-site. Mifsud then paid 500 Euro for the anti-doping test, and the videos were sent to AIDA. Five months later, Dieter Baumann, (who was not present at the event), informs Mifsud that the 'okay' sign does not appear on the video. The cameraman for the event said that he was under the impression that the video should have a close-up of Mifsud's face, to capture whether or not he was okay. Unfortunately, by zooming in on Mifsud's face, the okay sign was not captured on the video, even though it may have been seen by the judges on site. So, the record is not recognized by AIDA, even though several documentaries have already been made about the event, and aired on television. Every freediver I know of, has great respect for Mifsud and this incredible record. The video was posted online and it clearly shows Mifsud coming up with incredible ease. Dieter Baumann himself, in his e-mail to Mifsud, congratulated Mifsud on an amazing performance, even if it can't be recognized by AIDA.

Mifsud replied that this decision has 'turned a page' in his career as a freediver. He stated that he will no longer participate or associate with any event which has anything to do with AIDA. This, of course, is unfortunate, since everyone knows he is the king of static (8'24") and dynamic (209m), even though neither of those performances are recognized by AIDA. He has also stated that he is seeking a refund for the cost of the anti-doping test, and his lawyer is already working on it.

I'm profoundly saddened to hear all this. As I stated earlier on this guest book, I'm always fighting for the rights of innocent athletes, and here, again, we see an innocent athlete being humiliated, his time and effort being ridiculed. I hope that all freedivers in the world would stand behind him, and let him know that they appreciate his skill and determination. I know that Howard's IFB (international freediving board), already accepted Mifsud's 8'24" static as a record, and I too surely recognize it in my own mind.

Ambrosia Productions were going to include a clip on Mifsud's 8'24" in their next DVD; I hope they still do so.

I ask myself this; when almost all the freedivers, and all the media, already accept Mifsud's performance, then what relevance does this decision by AIDA have, five months after the fact? Little relevance, in my mind.

I was hoping to see Mifsud at the 2004 world championships in Vancouver. He had previously stated his intent to come. Now, all those who are competing there will be deprived of the presence of this great champion.

I urge AIDA to reconsider the decision.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
I am very sorry to hear that the record has not been accepted. I think it is extremely unfair that such an incredible performance can be disqualified when the athlete did not do anything wrong.

Congratulations to Stephane for a great achievement.

this situation is totally absurd. if the judges on site saw Stephane give the ok, then why on earth can't Sebastian and Dieter take their word on that. don't they trust their own judges?

i don't think Howard's idea will catch on because of the inconsistencies and controversies that will inevitably crop up. i think it would create more problems that it would solve. but i do agree with him that more 'common sense' is needed. and Stephane's case is a classic example.
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This makes me sick.

Empower the judges ON SITE to make the final and binding decision. That is the only solution. AIDA's current system implies that the judges on site are incompetent to judge the performance, that a committee of people who weren't even there have better judgement (watching a video in two dimensions with distorted sound and limited field of view). The current AIDA system of video review doesn't work if the video doesn't capture the entire performance. In this case, the bad video is not Mifsud's fault.

If AIDA does not have standards and instructions for the videography of record videos, then the benefit should go to the athlete and the judgment made by judges ON SITE! The two judges present at Mifsud's record saw his okay signal, so did the cheering audience. For #$%@'s sakes don't you get it? HE HAS THE WORLD RECORD! AIDA rules and regulation must change to adapt to the needs of its competitors--or else they will leave and our sport and AIDA will be poorer for it.

An athlete should know ON SITE whether or not to spend money on a doping test, whether or not to send out press releases to the media, whether or not to schedule another attempt (if they can afford it)--not months later when it is too late (i.e. Carlos Coste, Annabel Briseno, and now Stefan Mifsud). Doping is an unavoidable condition on a record that is well understood by media and spectators so far. But AIDA has the opportunity to eliminate these ridiculous 'after-the-fact' disqualifications that are making this sport stupid.

Ban the video review! Empower judges ON SITE!
Stefan Mifsud should protest this decision.

We can only hope that Mandy and Martin are spared this idiocy until something changes.

Peter Scott
Vancouver, BC
This is just ridiculous. I'm not even a competitive freediver and I'm pissed. AIDA should really rethink its policies. Anyway, congratulations to Stefan Mifsud. You got the record in my book.

I’m with you all, but maybe we should let somebody representing the AIDA state the organization side, before we stone them. If it’s like what we think, then I will gladly throw the first stone!

This is the point: why having judges on site if they have no "power"?

In that case, only video should be sent by organizers or athletes...it would save money and time for everybody.....

But of course, this is not the right thing to do.

Like in any other sports, the judges should be the only ones to decide the validity of the performance. (unless there is a protest from the athlete etc)
But it should be over that two guys sitting in their sofa on a rainy sunday afternoon decide of the faith of athletes days or weeks after the performances were made.

There is now another serious problem: the judges.....
Following Sebastien Nagel's point of view (and some others...) there are mostly "bad" juddges, uncompetent etc....Of course I've been promoted like others in that category....It's funny as some of the "competent judges" are almost never freediving themselves...(sorry for them, it's a great activity)
Judges should be good freedivers (well what is a good freediver...other debate....) that are aware of the criterias on wich a performance should be evaluate.

When I see the jury elected for Vancouver World's, I wish you all a lot of fun!

And no, I'm not "spitting in the soup".....!

About Mifsud's performance, I think he won't let go in this story will go much further than that.

All the athletes and nationals AIDA's should act to make this rules change as soon as possible to minimize the disastrous impact such decisions have on the public image of the sport. Sponsors are lost, media exposure is lost and good athletes are lost.

Did AIDA bothered to explain the meaning of "not seeing the 'ok' sign on video eventhough our judges saw it in the field"?
Or this is actually the official excuse?

How about solving this problem just by inventing some organization named FDCS (Freedivers with Common Sense) or FCO (Freediving Community Organisaion), and let it ratify records. Every person in the world (ok, the 3000 people who are aware that there is an international freediving community) will probably acknowledge Mifsud's record (and other vaguely disqualified records against all evidence), including most if not all athleths. I can't see how it will change the media's point of view, it's a ratified WR.
We can even make a new catagory: "Static records that were disqualified by AIDA 5 months late because the 'ok' sign was not caught on video and they don't really trust their own judges on site."

Now for a more interesting question, what does it take for FREE to acknowledge that record? would the tape, doping test and the words of the AIDA judges on site suffice?

What a bunch of fuc#heads, that is just disgraceful to think that this poor guy gets told 5months later by some dic*heads that his record is not valid. Stephane if you get to read this forum just remember that if someone asks me who can hold their breath the longest in the world at the moment I will still say Stephane mifsud 8:24, im sure many others will do the same.

If AIDA keeps going the way they are they will have very few "new" people coming into the sport seeing this sh#t happening all the time. Pull your act together Aida you bunch of Fuc#ing idiots your not doing anything for the sport doing this.

8:24 is still he time to beat :cool:

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Congratulations Stephane Mifsud!! You have the record.

I am not going to comment on AIDA as it has all been said before, and we all know that human(s) only hear the truth when they want to.

What I can put out there is, why is there so much interest in AIDA? What do they actually do? What is the reality behind this whole "bring the sport into the limelight"?

These questions make me believe we are all following a crowd, with no understanding of where it is going.

Tomorrow, we, the combined voices of non-political freediving, could decide to begin hosting competitions as a new organization or join with FREE. After all that is the only reason people keep showing up at AIDA's doors. They hold competitions all over the world and recognize the results internationally. WOW big deal.

Hey Eric how about you hold a competition in Vancouver, Sebastian Murat in Australia, Herbert in Austria, etc, etc, and there we go, you think that is not going to get a lot of attention from the media if the word is put out? Just as much as an AIDA competition at least (generally none). The real push to get it seen by the media has always been by individuals and the only connection to AIDA is to have the ability to call it internationally recognized.

Then you have most of the competitors who are doing with no care about the media, it is just an extension of being part of an activity. Have some fun, get recognized for accomplishment, go diving again.

Come on people this is no universal entity ruling the future of freediving and the lives of those involved. If you do not like it then encourage others to start community involvement and different organizations.

If we look at education, AIDA is irrelevant. People are teaching all over the place but some instructors are part of AIDA and promote it because that is where one can compete. The students just want to learn and it seems most reasonable often to learn from those actively competing or part of those competition. If there was a local competition being held, then they are going to be excited to participate, to learn, and encourage others to learn from those involved as well.

To summarize am I missing something or is the following what is important here:

- create an international community that is excited to participate in the activity
- organize local and international competitions
- educate
- have fun

We all have the ability to do this, and it is already happening, except those who are helping to do this keep relying on a decrepid entity. Do we need to?

Think about it.

One other point... If there is so much disappointment with AIDA why are we not attempting to assist Free at hosting local competitions? That appears to be the only thing they are missing?

Once again big kudos to Stephane Misfud. All right minded freedivers know that you are holding the current records. It's unbelievable how the arrogant AIDA bureaucrats misuse their power again and again.

regards from Austria,

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while i know very little; is it not time to boycott this (seemingly?) useless AIDA lot?
I times of crisis it is always good to keep ones head clear.

Of course this is a missunderstanding that will be cleared up. The problem is not that Stephane Mifsud has lost his World record - because if it is true what we hear it is obvious that he will get it back. The problem is the SYSTEM FAILURE in the AIDA ratification proceedure. Did Dieter talk to the judges on site??

Records are today judged TWICE (once on site once on video). It is a system that is beeing on trial. I think it is apparent that the assembly will make away with this rule. Judges are getting better and should be trusted with FULL responsability.

The REAL problem is the way AIDA dealt with this situation. Having said that we must rememeber that there is always A PERSON behind avery decision. AIDA is so much more than the AIDA board. The AIDA board is soo much more than the person in charge of ratifying records.

My suggestion is that the AIDA board does what any corporate leadership would have done:
1) Rule one - TRANSPARANCY. Inform what is going on - hide nothing - the only way to get out of a crisis.
2) Take responsability - who did wrong? - ask that person to resign!

So AIDA should be out here in the trenches explaining.
And as I see it it is not MIFSUD who should leave AIDA. It is the guy doing this misstake (if it was a misstake).

To be honest - no one of us was there. So be careful with sending out your wrath yet.

And for those putting your hope to "common sense". You will NOT get very far with that. This sport of ours can only grow with RIGORUS and PRECISE rules - that are used in EXACTLY the same way every time. EVEN IF WE SEE an athlete beeing in full control - if he shows no OK sign he should be disqualified. (Maybe the effort of doing the OK sign would have revealed a LMC).

The rules are not there to give the athlete the benefit of the doubt! The judges went to the MIFSUD record attempt to protect STEPANEKS rights (the current WR holder). Stepanek does not want to be beaten by some one who does it MORE or LESS OK - that is not common sense.

If MIFSUD did everything right he deserves justice (and one hell of a big apology).
If someone in the board messed this up they deserve justice as well. If this is the second major erratic judgedecision maybe someone should leave the board to restore faith in the community.

If there is a breach of faith here (athletes - AIDA board) - the way to solve this is not to stand outside the debate.

But as cannot be said enough times: AIDA is a federation and answers only to the assembly.

These are sad times and i feel sick to hear this.
I can only say i hope we see something change soon.

Stephane , you have the record. Any serious and even non serious freediver you ask will tell you.
PLEASE do not stop what you are doing. I understand that that is your first reaction (it would be mine, just after calling Bin Laden to send an extra tape to AIDA). But this is the thing you are the best at , you love and people in your sport admire you for.
Things will change eventualy. I hope......



Glenn Venghaus
And for those putting your hope to "common sense".
Just to clarify, "common sense" to me is relaying on the judges on site that have seen the ok 'sign'. You are right that AIDA also holds some responsibility to Stepanek, but there's a difference from keeping his record due to the benefit of a doubt, then to keep a record on technicality. If judges on site saw the "ok" sign, I think it's a technicality that is not related to the diver at all.
I'm not even sure Stepanek would like to keep the record on those circumstances.

And another thing, I think that 5 months for ratification is something that has to be accounted for as well.

1) Rule one - TRANSPARANCY. Inform what is going on - hide nothing - the only way to get out of a crisis.
I vote for that, I think it has proven that the capitalist market gained quite alot in countires where companies have transparancy. And another thing, I think any freediving organization OWES it to it's supporting community, the divers are what's important, AIDA is not there to govern us, but to serve us.
I agree with deepthought

Irrespective of the results why did it take 6 months to review a video and come up with a result ? That's pathetic.

Irrespective of AIDA records or lack there of I think there is a lot of respect for unratified records with individual competitors.

You'll notice that Martin anounced a time of 8'26"+


While I don't know what's in Martin's mind. I can only assume that he respects Stephane's 8'24" and will attempt to beat it.

Irrespective of the fact that I say irrespective a lot, please read this post ;)

Smellsfishy / Meir
I understand why all of you are angry so am I. We know about the incredible performance by Stephane and there were two judges who confirmed that the dive was O.K. In my opinion Stephane is the world record holder.
But there are more things to consider than our emotions. We have a strong association what I am happy about. And this association has rules which must be followed. So if there exists no official video with his O.K. sign AIDA acted right because they just followed the rules and LMC's appear very often during giving the O.K. sign.
If we don't agree to the rules we can change them democratically. I think international judges must have the rights to recognize WR's because it's pathetic that it takes months, pathetic to make such an extra effort and it's pathetic to think we have only two competent judges in the world. But it's up to me to go to AIDA Germany and try to change it.
Despite that: If a video (official or not) exists with Stephanes O.K. sign it's our obligation to support him. Within AIDA we could arrange an extraordinary voting involving all AIDA Nationals. Having watched the video all nations can vote responsibly.
AIDA shouldn't loose Stephane Mifsud he is one of our greatest freedivers.
I think some of us have not been watching the injustices blatently occuring around the world due to exactly this kind of thinking in the quotes, otherwise you would think they would understand that this is not the community or sport that freedivers want to be part of.

The rules are not there to give the athlete the benefit of the doubt!

That is all the rules do at this moment. Refer to all the debates on various
web sites, forums, guestbooks. That is they are subjective therefore, they
either weigh to the athlete or to the judges, but there is always doubt.

judges went to the MIFSUD record attempt to protect STEPANEKS rights

If this is true then maybe ask Stepanek "would you mind or disagree with us
rewarding Stephane the WR?"

And for those putting your hope to "common sense". You will NOT get very far with that. This sport of ours can only grow with RIGORUS and PRECISE rules - that are used in EXACTLY the same way every time. EVEN IF WE SEE an
athlete beeing in full control - if he shows no OK sign he should be disqualified

Of course they should get far with "common sense", because this current
judging, assessment, standard is extremely unstable and changing constantly
to allow it to reach a level where it will be accepted alongside other sport
standards. In its current form it is weak. Yet "common sense" is the ONLY
thing that will adapt it to a world class level. The standards are not
RIGORUS and PRECISE at this time, so let's not pretend they are and cause
grief to others because of it. And how can you codemn "common sense" when
the rules can not change without it? Sounds like a strong contradiction

Let me ask you to consider the reality of your formality. If the formality
only exists today but will be changed tomorrow to something that would have
passed somebody today, why can we not use this performance to cause that
change along-side the rewarding of the WR. The approach you are currently
using is close to a judge of law setting a precident decision that saves
people from going to jail, yet still sending the person to jail, who's trial
was used to determine the precedent decision.

I do not believe this kind of common sense will influence the growth of the
sport negatively. Who cares? Nobody. Currently the only people that know the
rules are the freedivers (and not many of them), not the media, or sporting
events lining up to include freedivers. This suggestion that we must rigidly
adhere to consistency, is just a lazy way of saying, "I don't want to be
considerate and be responsible for doing so." Yes, you could easily have a
voting on Stephane's performance amongst all the judges, and the outcome
would decide. Who would argue with that? If a host of judges witnessed the
event, that does not imply unfairness to any other athelete. Actually they
expect it for themselves as well. But hey you might have the odd egotistical
strategist who thinks he deserves to stop others from succeeding, so he puts
up a fuss. SO WHAT!!!! All those who had justice will greatly outweigh the
odd-ball. And where we would allow the odd-ball to succeed, is that the
community you guys are trying to build here?

Trust me, that will be a less exciting sport and community. Because we are
different than any other sport. We are divers, that every day get to
experience a serenity and closeness to our environment, to working with our
friends and buddies. We all want to see each other having fun, experiencing
something nobody else has experienced. Comradeship, new challenges,
fairness, would be an amazing seller to the media amongst competitions of
fair judging (not PRECISE/INCONSIDERATE judging). This sport will grow, no
matter what. Please wake up to this fact and start introducing "common
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I find it ironic that the law(in my country anyhow) has a principle that is often used in deciding matters much more serious than any AIDA judge ever has to face. Its called the 'reasonable man test'.
Yet again

So here we are again Tyler - at opposite sides of the fence. Or are we? I think what most freedivers would like is unity. And since we are talking about performance freediving we want unity under RULES and under ORGANIZATION.

So if a new organization is started - a new deal. What would that help. Since I like unity I would join that organization, and maybe FRED and NAGEL too - and then we still would debate rules, democracy and thelike.

If turning the back towards AIDA I believe we would see many TOP athletes more or less ratifying there own records by inviting media and make it official that way - and soon we would habe athletes accusing each other of making poor performances.

Yes you are right - common sense is what CHANGES the rules (and change they must). And it is an intresting thought to let MIFSUD be the first case to break in a new rule.

But lets say MIFSUD did not show the OK sign. And lets assume that he like Eric said made the record as easy as a joke. My question is this; why if it was so easy did he not show the OK sign? And if it was so easy why not go out and do 8.08 next week. Why did he not arrange proper videofilming (it is his responsability according to the rules) (I think) (But in my opinion it should be the judges responsability).

This reminds me of UMBERTO refusing to give an OK sign in the Ibiza championship. He conceled his face for some time, didnt turn to the judges, and made his "I have made it" signs after just a few seconds (all very effective ways to conceal a potential LMC). That arrogant attitude towards judges, rules (and fellow competitors) surpasses (or equals) some of the arrogance displyed at times from the Aida board.

Or think of NERY with his childish attitude of making signs to the camera at depth to show how easy 70 meters was for him (in the hawaii comp) violating rules at the same time.

For me it all boils down to one simple thing - obey the rules - make it easy for the judges to judge you. Stop fooling around.

(But the main question is - if the judges on site saw an OK sign of MIFSUD - what the F... is the aida board on about then when coming months after and altering judging)

Sebastian /Sweden
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