Bodysuit Waters Get Rougher -- July 17, 2000
By Phillip Whitten
LOS ANGELES, July 17. ONE day before USA Swimming's Board of Directors apparently will be called into special session to reconsider its controversial ban on the new hi-tech bodysuits
at the U.S. Olympic Trials next month, Speedo--the nation's leading supplier of competitive swimwear--issued a correction to a report published last week.
Stu Isaac, Speedo's Vice President of Sales and Marketing,stated: "Contrary to statements made last week, Speedo has always maintained we will have sufficient suits for all competitors available for the Olympic Trials.
"What we said was that we would not have suits for all 1,200 competitors six weeks before the Trials."
On June 22, the USA Swimming Board of Directors, banned the suits from the Olympic Trials on grounds of fairness, noting that swimmers who already had the suits would have an advantage over those who did not, as they would have the opportunity to wear them in practice and in competition before the Trials.
However, two other bodysuit manufacturers--TYR and adidas--announced that they had sufficient suits for all competitors.
TYR requested a ruling from the USOC, which recommended binding arbitration. adidas announced
it would give its suits to as many of the 1,200 competitors as wanted to wear them.
Isaac stated that Speedo's new bodysuits would be available on August 1--eight days before the Trials are to begin in Indianapolis. "We will have 2,000 suits, in five styles for men and five styles for women, more than enough for every competitor at the Trials."
Meanwhile, Matt Zimmer, TYR's Team and Promotions Director, said: "Our lawyers are in contact with USOC to work out a day for the arbitration hearing. We filed on Friday and have a 48-hour window. I think the USOC is trying to delay the hearing until Wednesday, after USA Swimming's Board of Directors has met. So the Board of Directors meeting is the lynchpin.
In Portland, Oregon, adidas reiterated its offer to supply its bodysuit--worn by Australia's Ian Thorpe when he set world records in the 200 and 400 meter freestyle at the Australian Olympic Trials in May--free of charge to all competitors at the U.S. Trials who wished to wear one.
On the other side of the Pacific Ocean, famed Australian coach Forbes Carlile is planning to bring the issue to a head on September 14, when FINA, swimming's governing body, holds its Congress in Sydney. Carlile, who has been garnering support from aaround the world, is asking the FINA Congress
for a one year moratorium on use of the hi-tech suits pendingthe results of scientific testing to determine whether they are performance-enhancing.
Under FINA rules, anything that is--or even "may" be performance-enhancing, is forbidden. But last October, FINA gave its okay to the suits.
Chuck Wielgus, Executive Director of USA Swimming, said he would oppose a moratorium on the hi-tech body suits: "I think the timing is wrong--coming just two days before the swimming competition is to begin in Sydney.
"It would be too disconcerting to our swimmers
not to know which suits they could wear or not wear.
"I'm not taking a position on whether or not the suits enhance performance. So long as they are equally available to all competitors, they should be allowed in Sydney. After the Games, FINA can take a long, hard look at the suits to see if we want to continue using them in the sport.
To read more about body suits or add your comments visit our Mail Bag section.