THE head of the United States swimming team today joined the condemnation of the new hi-tech swimsuits which have split the Australian Olympic and swimming communities.
Dennis Pursley, US Swimming's national team director, said he is not in favor of the suits even though the sport's world governing body, FINA, had approved them.
"I think the technology improvements that reduce or eliminate obstacles to performance are a good thing but to me we have rounded the corner and we are now looking at a suit which enhances performance," he said.
Under FINA rules no swimmer is permitted to "use or wear any device that may aid his speed, buoyancy or endurance during a competition".
"The irony is that FINA has a rule that says that you cannot wear any suits or equipment that is performance enhancing, the manufacturers claim that these suits are performance enhancing and FINA'S approved it," Pursley told ABC Radio.
"To me it looks pretty clear that either FINA approved the use of these suits in violation of their own rules or the manufacturers are guilty of false advertising."
Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates has asked the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) for a ruling on the legality of the suits.
The issue has divided the Australian swimming fraternity and put Coates at loggerheads with national head swimming coach Don Talbot.
Four-times Olympic gold medalist Murray Rose has foreshadowed a "technological war" in the sport if the suits are not banned.
"It's only the beginning of a technological war between all the major swimsuit manufacturers that are going to come out with bigger and better suits," said Rose.
"One of the nice things about swimming is that it's always been a real simple sport.
"It doesn't involve technology in the way that cycling or skiing or some of the other sports that are so technologically driven.
"You never quite know if it's the best technology or the person that has the greatest talent that's going to win. Whereas in swimming, you always know."
Rose said he is concerned the suits are establishing an uneven playing field in the sport.
Pursley said he is also concerned that all swimmers are given access to the swimsuits within plenty of time to ensure they could be properly fitted and
had time to adjust.
"I do not know that all the swimmers that are Olympic hopefuls will have those opportunities," he said.
(photo: Matt Zimmer of Team TYR models the TYR full leg suit. Photo by Bill Volckening)