Pay No Attention To That Man Behind the Curtain

By Brent Rutemiller

PHOENIX, Arizona, April 10. The Genie is out of the bottle while the man behind the curtain is left holding Pandora's box.

The Genie was spotted wearing a black, full-body, custom-fitted stocking next to Pandora's wet footprints. Word on the street is that Pandora left her box for a Water Cube. The man behind the curtain reports that everything is just fine.

I guess I will rest comfortably knowing that "The Man" has everything under control.

The Man is FINA president Mustapha Larfaoui, who held a press conference to announce FINA's decision to stand by its approval of new swimwear racing technology. FINA is the world governing body for swimming. It has a responsibility to protect and nurture the sport and not to pull levers, spew fire and bellow smoke.

The Genie is the technology itself. Once it is tried, tested and proven, there is no going back. Swimwear manufacturers have every right to bring new technology to the sport. Matter of fact, it is their responsibility.

Pandora is the consequences of technology not being regulated, standardized or evenly distributed to all on an even playing field.

When The Man tells me that "We're talking a lot about the swimsuit [and] not about the athletes," I just can't help but see a little smoke coming up as the curtain is slowly being pulled back.

When 23 world records (and counting) have been set in the last two months and The Man justifies the unprecedented assault on the record books as, "This is an Olympic year, everyone is trying to do their best," I see another lever being pulled.

When FINA says, "There is no credible scientific test to say there is anything wrong with the suits we have approved," I see a curtain of fire challenging the swimming community and media to bring back the "broom stick" as proof that something is afoul.

Pandora left a box full of issues in The Man's hands. Issues such as what third-party entities tested the swimwear; does every swimmer get the exact same off-the-rack suit or are some athletes secretly custom-fitted; is the swimwear available to everyone and is it available at an affordable price; do all countries get equal access to the technology; does the swimwear meet buoyancy and thickness standards? These issues are not going away soon.

The Wizard of Oz movie ends with everyone happy. This story may not end that way, especially when The Man finds Pandora's footprints leading all the way to Beijing.

To read The Man Behind The Curtain – Part Two click here.

To read more about this issue click here.