Sports

FINA to move up suit ban

The governing body of swimming will ban the high-tech bodysuits responsible for a record number of world marks set at this year's aquatics championships by the original date of Jan. 1, 2010.

No need to worry about a boycott from Michael Phelps anymore.

Swimming's governing body has set a Jan. 1 date for its ban on the record-breaking bodysuits, a move that comes partly in response to a threat from Phelps's coach to pull his swimmer from competition until the suits are outlawed.

Earlier this week, FINA announced a ban but said it might not take effect until April or May, three or four months later than expected.

"Now, without a doubt, the rules are applying Jan. 1, 2010," FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu said Friday. "The manufacturers are ready and can begin [suit] submissions Nov. 1 or before."

The comments from Phelps's coach, Bob Bowman, came immediately after his swimmer was upset by unheralded Paul Biedermann of Germany in the 200-metre freestyle Tuesday.

Biedermann wore a 100 per cent polyurethane Arena suit, while Phelps stuck with last year's LZR Racer from Speedo, which is less than half polyurethane.

"I think there was a lot of frustration with Michael. We saw that with his incredible swim in the 200 fly," USA Swimming executive director Chuck Wielgus said, referring to Phelps's world record Wednesday. "Bob maybe verbalized what some people had been feeling on behalf of Michael."

Last year, Phelps and others with the LZR profited from the suit, while this year suits from Italian manufacturers Arena and Jaked are considered faster.

Each of those suits will be banned at the start of next year, when men will be restricted to suits that extend from the waist to the top of the knees, and women to suits that cannot go past the shoulders or beyond the knees.

FINA plans to issue new suit guidelines to manufacturers by Sept. 30, and thought about a delay for a few months to give companies enough time to produce new suits.

"We'll then probably expect Michael not to swim until they are implemented," Bowman said Tuesday. "I'm done with this. It has to be implemented immediately. The sport is in shambles right now and they better do something or they're going to lose their guy who fills these suits."

More than 30 world records have been set at the world championships, about twice as many as at the last edition two years ago in Melbourne, Australia.

"Comments by Michael Phelps or anyone else we respect, and we do our job and control whatever happens in our sport," Marculescu said.

FINA also announced a rule requiring suits to be approved one year before Olympics or world championships, and available commercially six months in advance.

A scientific commission with materials experts from each continent will approve swimsuits and monitor developments in technology, FINA said.

USA Swimming is considering installing the new suit rules for domestic competition before the end of the year. Polyurethane bodysuits will be banned for a Duel in the Pool competition in Manchester, England, in December, with the United States facing an all-star team from France, Russia and Britain.

"We met after prelims this morning and agreed to adopt the rules for that meet," Wielgus said. "Whether or not USA Swimming adopts those rules any sooner is something we'll talk about when we get home."

now