Body Suits May DQ Swimmers from Aussie Team -- May 3, 2000
By MICHAEL EVANS and MICHAEL COWLEY
Sydney Morning Herald
SYDNEY, May 3. AUSTRALIAN swimmers who wear the new body suits at this month's Australian Olympic Trials risk losing their places on the Olympic team, the president of the Australian Olympic Committee, Mr John Coates, warned yesterday.
Coates said he would delay the announcement of the Olympic swimming team because of possible protests and legal action resulting from a decision yesterday by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The court ruled it did not have jurisdiction or authority to examine the validity of the decision by swimming's ruling body, FINA, to approve the use of the suits.
Mr. Coates warned swimmers there were substantial threats that if they swam in the suits and were selected for the Games that defeated competitors could challenge the result.
The AOC would seek indemnity from swimmers using the
bodysuits at the selection trials by asking them to acknowledge they were wearing them at their own risk.
Dual Olympic gold medallist Kieren Perkins said the
court's announcement had done little to allay the concerns of swimmers overthe suits' legality. He urged more clarification before the Olympic selection
Mr Coates said the AOC had done all it could to offer
certainty to athletes about which swimsuits they could wear. The announcement of the team will be delayed at least 48 hours from the end of the selection meet until the appeal time had passed.
Mr. Coates had asked the court for an opinion on the
suits' legality after a world record holder, Ian Thorpe, questioned whether the suit he was wearing was legal.
FINA's rules state that "no swimmer shall be permitted to use or wear any device that may aid his speed, buoyancy or endurance during a competition (such as webbed gloves, flippers, fins, etc)".
But the president of Australian Swimming, Mr. Terry
Gathercole, said he did not expect swimmers to change their stance on wearing the new swim suits. "Swimmers can swim in whatever swimsuit that has been approved by FINA," Mr Gathercole said. "It will be totally their choice, and we have no reason to change or
question that. "We will still announce a team and it will be a team that we will be recommending to the AOC for ratification. Whether that takes 48 hours is up to them."
Asked if he would be disappointed if a swimmer protested against a selection result, he said: "I certainly would be, because I believe everybody's been given enough notice.
"We've asked athletes to get up on this particular day
and perform, they have known for ages that have to perform on the night ... the end product is to get on blocks and do the job."