TYR Protests USA Swimming's Bodysuit Ban, Threatens Legal Action -- July 11, 2000
Huntington Beach, CA. In response to USA Swimming's announcement banning bodysuits at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in August, competitive swimwear maker, TYR Sport, Inc. is officially protesting the decision based on availability and fairness. Additionally, TYR Sport is asking USA Swimming to reconsider its decision and immediately reverse the ban.
The USA Swimming Steering Committee voted to disallow the new bodysuits in the interest of fairness to all competitors at the Trials. "Their decision to ban body suits was hastily made and based on misinformation," commented Chris Wilmoth, public relations manager at
TYR Sport, Inc. "The Board claims they "had a real concern that the suit would not be readily available to all Trials' swimmers in a reasonable amount time prior to the event."
"Clearly," Wilmoth added, USA Swimming did not have all the facts and it would appear that this decision was based upon one brand's (Speedo's) inability to make suits.
"Our body suit, Aquapel, has been available and we would be more than happy to supply all athletes with it. Our goal is to solve this problem for USA Swimming by making Aquapel available to whoever
wants to wear it," Wilmoth emphasized.
Wilmoth charged that the Board's decision contradicts FINA's decision in October of 1999 to allow the use of the new body suit technology and the Court of Arbitration for Sport's advisory opinion that reaffirmed FINA's decision.
"The Board says that "those decisions were based on the premise on the availability of the suit to all
competitors." The Board is failing to realize that this new body suit technology is available to all swimmers. They made a bad decision without all the pertinent information."
"Additionally," Wilmoth said, "according to the Amateur Sports Act of 1978, a governing national body cannot impose restrictions that are more stringent than the international governing body. "What USA Swimming is doing is entirely arbitrary and erroneous," Wilmoth continued. "And in the event that we exhaust all administrative remedies, TYR Sport has
retained legal counsel to consider further options."
USA Swimming has already allowed swimmers to wear body suits to qualify for the Trials and will allow its athletes to wear the suits in competition at the Olympic Games.
However, FINA's decision was first be confirmed by the FINA Congress meeting on September 14. A group of coaches, led by Australia's Forbes Carlile, is arguing that the suits may be performence-enhancing, and is asking a one-year moratorium on their use pending scientific studies on the suits' performance-enhancing qualities.
Wilmoth added: " USA SWimming's] decision is illogical and unreasonable. If it's permissible to wear them to
qualify for the Trials and at the Olympics then it should be fine to wear them at the actual Trials. Even though the Board doesn't seem, or want, to realize it, every swimmer has that option today. To add to the confusion, the definition of a "body suit" was adopted after the actual banning.
"Our goal is to preserve the integrity of the sport and to protect those athletes whose careers are at stake. It's up to the athletes to decide what they want to wear at the Trials, not the Board
of Directors. At TYR, the athletes come first and we will do everything we can to try to change USA Swimming's decision," Wilmoth concluded.