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Page last updated at 18:02 GMT, Saturday, 12 April 2008 19:02 UK

Speedo suit ruled legal by Fina

Australian swimmer Leisel Jones models the controversial Speedo suit
The Speedo suit has caused a stir in the swimming world

Speedo's new record-breaking suit has won the approval of swimming's world governing body Fina.

Critics claimed the suit was not legal and called it "technological doping" because it combines a polyurethane layer with a layer of normal fabric.

But following a meeting between Fina and manufacturers in Manchester, the LZR Racer suit got the green light.

"Fina confirmed that all the swimsuits approved so far are complying with the specifications," read a statement.

There have been 19 long-course world marks set since Speedo's LZR Racer suit was introduced in February.

Several additional world marks have been established at the short-course world championships.

We always play by the rules... there is nothing wrong with our swimsuit

Speedo's Stephen Rubin

All but one of the records have come with swimmers wearing the LZR.

"The discussion clarified that there was a broad understanding between the manufacturers and Fina that the rules were not meant and should not be interpreted as limiting the materials to (strictly) fabrics, but that other material could be used, as has already been the case for several years," added Fina.

Fina's rules say "different fabrics can be used in one swimsuit".

"We always play by the rules," said Stephen Rubin, the chairman of Speedo holding company Pentland.

"As far as we're concerned, there is nothing wrong with our swimsuit, and it was agreed on at the meeting that it conforms with Fina's rules."

The argument of Arena Group CEO Cristiano Portas, the leading opponent of the LZR, centred on the word "fabric", which he took as prohibiting a polyurethane, or plastic-type, material.

"I have to acknowledge that the other manufacturers had a broader understanding," said Portas.

GB swimming coach Ian Wright

"The most important thing was to clarify the rules. Now that we know fabric is the same thing as material, we will develop a new suit.

"We already have some samples, so it is not a matter of a long time. We were holding back to respect the rules."

Last week, Italy-based Arena published an open letter to Fina in several European newspapers demanding "urgent" action due to the "firestorm of publicly expressed concern" over the new suits.

A day later, Fina issued a statement saying there would be no changes to its rules because there is no scientific evidence supporting claims of buoyancy.

On Wednesday, another letter was sent to Fina by a coalition of manufacturers led by Arena - including Adidas, Diana and Descente - asking that three points on the swimsuit debate be added to the agenda for Saturday's meeting.

Fina did not respond to that letter.

see also
GB swimmers shine again at Worlds
12 Apr 08 |  Swimming
Making a splash
03 Apr 08 |  Swimming
US coach says no record is safe
10 Apr 08 |  Swimming
Records 'not down to swimsuits'
27 Mar 08 |  Swimming
GB women smash Euro medley record
25 Mar 08 |  Swimming
Bernard claims third world record
23 Mar 08 |  Swimming
Swimsuit technology under review
25 Mar 08 |  Swimming
Scientists invent speedy swimsuit
11 Mar 08 |  Nottinghamshire
Swimming on the BBC
02 Oct 07 |  Swimming