Updated May 15, 2008
LOS ANGELES, California, May 15. ACCORDING to an article published by the Los Angeles Times, TYR has filed a federal-court lawsuit against Speedo, USA Swimming, Mark Schubert and Erik Vendt.
According to the article, "In documents filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, TYR alleges that Speedo, USA Swimming and Schubert ‘combined to engage in a campaign of falsely disparaging the products of Speedo's competitors, including TYR, for the purpose of inducing competitive swimmers to refrain from doing business with Speedo's competitor' and that it was done in an ‘especially insidious and deceptive manner.'"
The article further states that TYR believes that Schubert is a "is a paid spokesman for Speedo."
Additionally, "'Schubert also arranged to have a fitting session during the mandatory team meeting where athletes were instructed on how to fit the Speedo LZR suit and position the LZR suit to the body…TYR-sponsored athletes in attendance expressed discomfort at Schubert's unsolicited comments.'"
TYR is also alleging breach of contract by Vendt, who recently made the switch to Speedo after signing with TYR.
Vendt was unavailable for comment as he is preparing for the 1500 freestyle at the Santa Clara International Invitational taking place tonight.
"USA Swimming received the legal documents late yesterday and has not yet finished reviewing them. For that reason, we are unable to comment at this time." – Jamie Fabos, USA Swimming Communications Director
"Warnaco (Speedo) has learned that TYR has filed a lawsuit against it, and others. While Warnaco generally does not comment on pending litigation, we think this lawsuit is without merit.
Speedo for 80 years has been the leader in innovation. Speedo's goal has always been to help athletes achieve their personal best. We're pleased that swimmers, wearing the Speedo LZR Racer, have set 37 world records in the last three months."
"TYR did not take filing this lawsuit lightly. TYR made several unofficial attempts to work things out with USA Swimming. But, once these efforts were unsuccessful, TYR believed it had to take this step.
TYR believes that what is happening in the swimming community is not good for the sport, or the athletes and that the issues brought up in the suit are much bigger than TYR. While the lawsuit is TYR versus the defendants, the issues raised go well beyond just a dispute between TYR and the defendants. It goes to misinformation in the marketplace that is particularly objectionable. It is marketing hype being filtered through a National Governing Body of a sport that is particularly inappropriate and dangerous way to disseminate information.
Competitive swimmers and coaches that are our customers are intelligent and sophisticated people. They understand that when they are marketed to in life. For instance, if Ford Motor Company states that they make the safest cars, they know it is coming from Ford. However, if someone from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the same thing, they would have much stronger credibility.
A similar analogy would be a drug company making a claim as to what their product does, compared to if the surgeon general made the same statement.
While we do believe some of the statements out there are factually false, what is more dangerous is that they were distributed by the NGB. The customer base is getting this information from a place they feel is more credible. We think it is really Speedo making the statement through USA Swimming with Mark Schubert wearing his USA Swimming hat speaking as the coach instead of the spokesperson of Speedo. That is inappropriate." – TYR's lawyer Larry Hilton
In an article posted by the New York Times, Schubert is reported to have responded with the following:
In a telephone interview Thursday, Schubert scoffed at the notion that his word would be treated as the final verdict by American swimmers.
"I should have that power," he said, adding that he called Furniss earlier in the week and suggested that they meet for lunch in Los Angeles later this month. According to Schubert, Furniss said, "I'd really like to do that, but it's too late because we're filing a lawsuit today."