ATHENS — An official with an international waterskiing organization released a statement saying Fotos Dulos is not the person being portrayed in court filings.
Dulos estranged wife Jennifer Dulos has been missing since May 24. Fotis Dulos and his girlfriend, Michelle Troconis have been charged with hindering prosecution and tampering with evidence, both have pleaded not guilty.
My name is Nancy Mastrocosta, I am the Secretary General of the Hellenic Waterski and Wakeboard Federation (HWWF).
Under my above capacity, I had the opportunity to meet and know Fotis Dulos and his children. Fotis and his children competed in the Greek Waterski Nationals in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 at the Hellenic Waterski and Wakeboard Training Center (HWTC), located in Lake Stratos, Agrinio. The Center, a three and a half hour drive from Athens, hosts the National Championships and also the training of the Greek National Waterski Teams (U14, U17, U21, Open, +35 +45 and +55). The Dulos children were very talented, enthusiastic about the sport, but also very well received by their peers, older athletes, officials, parents and coaches. Members of their extended family included Yiannis Nathanail a former U17 world champion and his brother Pavlos, a U14 European Champion. The children developed friendships and bonds beyond their family and we all looked forward to see them year after year when they visited. Having read some of the comments about the children and Fotis, I believe the truth is misrepresented and I would like to mention the following based on my observations which by the way are universally shared among parents, coaches and athletes across countries:
- Fotis Dulos is not the person portrayed in the media; far from it. We witnessed Fotis for many years as a calm, balanced, respectful, kind person. We witnessed a caring father, not only for his kids’ skiing activities, but for every aspect of their daily lives, feeding them, putting them to sleep, taking his children and sometimes other children to different activities, such as swimming, bowling, dinner, etc. No one ever witnessed Fotis abusing his children in any way or form, or even forcing the children to ski. On the contrary, we repeatedly witnessed Fotis being a great father. It was Fotis who was present, not only in tournaments but also in practice. Coaching them and supporting them emotionally when needed. Being an accomplished skier himself, he always emphasized the effort instead of the result. By taking the pressure away, the children performed exceptionally and this was largely to his credit. I cannot speak about Jennifer because she never attended in these four years, not once.
- The children did not ski for 11 hours, as mentioned in the press and court filings. Slalom sets, which are primarily what the children engaged in, usually last 10-15 minutes. There is a time limit set by the Federation of 15 minutes per set. This is typical and it is my belief that the Avon Ski Club where the children practiced mostly, has a similar limit per ski set – a maximum of 15 minutes. The children took one, sometimes two, sets per day. Very rarely one of them would take 3 sets. So, they typically spent half hour on the water or less.
- The Dulos children enjoyed every moment of the waterskiing life at HWTC. The children did not suffer or hate the sport – they were extremely excited about the opportunity to compete locally, nationally and internationally at such a high level. They won the US Nationals, US Eastern Regionals and Greek Nationals in 2016. This is quite extraordinary for two brothers to win gold and silver in these tournaments in one year. They had developed relationships with world class professional skiers such as Chet Raley, Boris Laval, Adam Sedlmajer and Alexanrdra Lauretano and they were adored across the board.
- And while fun was a big part of all this, it is important to mention that the children never suffered an injury in all these years. While this is almost an impossibility for athletes of this level, it is also a testament of how attentive Fotis was with the children. He always made sure they were safe and well prepared, mentally and physically. We witnessed him cut a set short when he felt that Theodre was tired and thus pushing himself beyond his limits.
- Most importantly the Dulos children loved waterskiing because it allowed them a certain degree of freedom and the opportunity to spend time with each other and their father on a daily basis. What is not apparent to those not involved in the sport, is that waterskiing is very much a family sport. You can have skiers of different levels ride the boat and ski together. You could have a novice, a recreational skier, a competitive skier and a world champion all ride the boat together and take turns skiing. This does not happen in other sports. And this is exactly what these children, as well as, many of us involved in the sport cherish about it.
In the summer of 2017, we were devastated to hear that the older boys had to decline the HWWF invitation to train and participate, for their first time, in the Junior Europeans held in Spain. The Dulos children have not competed since and it is our understanding that Jennifer does not want them to continue water-skiing. We hope, for the sake of the children, that they will be eventually reunited with their father, extended family and friends, and that they will be given the opportunity to follow their hearts and practice what they love. We miss them dearly.
According to divorce documents, Jennifer had claimed her husband pushed their children to water ski at “dangerous and excessive” level.
Jennifer saying in those documents, “they are physically and emotionally exhausted and have begged me to do something about it. We are all terrified to disobey my husband.”