Port Vila, Vanuatu (PressExposure) August 04, 2009 -- The USA swimmer and Beijing relay gold medalist, Ricky Berens, ripped apart the bottom section of his body-suit, letting his buttocks be seen by the world, before the qualifying heat of the 4X100 freestyle, during the World Swimming Championships in Rome. Berens had leaned over to commence his pre-warm up stretches, just before stepping up onto the starter blocks.
However, it is more than just revealing some bare skin, which has the body-suits swirling in a pool of International controversy.
After Jan 1st 2010 the FINA (International Swimming Federation) will ban the record-breaking high-tech form-hugging body-suits, which give the swimmer more flotation, while keeping the swimmer dry.
"The new technology in suits probably are more performance-enhancing than just allowing an athlete to compete at their ability level", Mr Wood, president of USA swimming said. "They actually change the complexion of strokes. They allow athletes who are not very strong in the core, to not need to be, because they have core stabilization. They allow athletes who are not great technically to float higher in the water because they are buoyant".
The suits are extremely expensive, which creates a real difficulty for a large number of athletes who can't afford to spend $600 for a bathing suit several times throughout a year. "However, the primary reason is that they have made the sport unfair", said Woods.
The current controversy erupted when Phelps swam against Biedermann in the world championships. Beidermann wore a 100% polyurethane Arena suit. Phelps had opted to stay with last year's Speedo LZR Racer, which is less than half polyurethane. It was a suit that Phelps had spent two years assisting his coach to develop. Body-suits from Italian manufacturers Arena and Jaked are believed to be a faster version.
FINA also announced that suits must be approved one year prior to an Olympic competitions, or world championships and must be commercially available, six months in advance.
Swimsuits will be approved by a scientific commission, with materials experts from each continent. The group will monitor developments in technology, including the textile, or fabric a suit can be made from.
Any record created up to 2010 will be allowed to stand however, even though up to 60 or 70% of records were broken by competitors wearing full body-suits. The main problem being that competitors in future world championship events and the Olympics, after the start of the ban on body-suits, will be competing against records created with the use of a major technological edge.
The questions now remain â will this open up a can of worms? Almost every sport uses technologically advanced equipment from running shoes, kayaks to helmets, tennis rackets and even boxing gloves. Do we need to return to the original Greek method of competition â wearing nothing at all?
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