The lawsuit, brought on behalf of three-times Olympic gold medallist Katinka Hosszu of Hungary and U.S. world champions Tom Shields and Michael Andrew, followed the cancellation of a new professional swimming event scheduled for Dec. 20-21 in Turin.
“FINA’s insistence that the world’s best swimmers may compete only on FINA’s terms and its efforts to enforce that rule are nakedly anti-competitive,” said the lawsuit which the trio said was filed “on behalf of elite swimmers around the world”.
The Italian federation said FINA had threatened sanctions against those swimmers taking part in the event, which was put together by organizers of the International Swimming League (ISL).
FINA could not be reached for comment.
The world governing body, however, said in November the meeting did not meet their rules requirements.
“The project of the Italian Swimming Federation to organize a swimming competition in Turin at short notice did not meet all the necessary FINA rulebook requirements.”
The ISL is proposing to organize meetings outside the control of FINA and pay higher prize money.