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bodysuit controversy down under

The launch of the new Speedo Fastskin bodysuit has led to a series of controversies in Australia, mostly because of who won’t be wearing them in the Athens Olympic Games.
Firstly a storm brewed over claims at the launch press conference that Ian Thorpe would swim faster in the new Fastskin rather than his currently preferred Adidas suit. Brian Sutton, formerly the Australian head coach and currently coaching Elka Graham’s squad at Sydney University, clearly believed the claims, in response to a question from the media, was a publicity stunt designed to link the Thorpe name to the new suit. “It was almost as if the whole thing was planned as an opportunity to link Thorpe with the suit” he said afterwards, “I thought it was distasteful […] when he wasn’t there and has no intention of wearing the suit.”
The CEO of Australian swimming, Glenn Tasker, echoed those sentiments: “In my view the question should have been declined because there is no scientific evidence that Ian would swim faster in the new suit. It was a loaded question.” Speedo were quick to defend their position however: “We know Ian has a sponsorship with Adidas, but it was a valid question” said Rod Davies, Speedo’s Australian CEO.
Meanwhile, Sutton was making his views on the availability of the new suits keenly felt, believing, as happened in the lead up to the Sydney games, that there would be an un-even playing field at the Australian Olympic Trials, with some swimmers equipped with customised suits and others not so fortunate. As well as the main protagonists, the shadow Olympic squad have also been fitted for suits in the last few weeks.
The final act of this melodrama saw Speedo issuing a thinly veiled threat to withdraw their sponsorship of the Australian Olympic team after this year’s Games following the Australian Olympic Committees (AOC) decision to allow three swimmers to wear their own choice of bodysuit rather than the team issue fastskin. Ian Thorpe was joined by Jim Piper (Nike) and Alice Mills (Adidas) in submitting an application to wear their individual sponsor’s suits as they constitute technical equipment. The dispensations were granted, much to Speedo’s annoyance, as it apparently went outside the scope of their sponsorship agreement with the AOC, with no comparative tests being carried out. Interestingly, both Piper and Mills competed in fastskins at last years world championships in Barcelona. The sponsorship deal is one of the longest in world sport, dating back to the 1956 Olympic Games, and is complemented by sponsorship of Australian Swimming.