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Page last updated at 15:52 GMT, Monday, 29 June 2009 16:52 UK

Foster furious over hi-tech suits

Mark Foster
Foster says the suits have made a 'mockery' of the sport

British swimmer Mark Foster says new performance-enhancing bodysuits in the sport are "the equivalent of steroids".

Fina, the sport's governing body, has deemed the bodysuits legal ahead of the world championships in Rome next month.

"The world championships are now going to be the suit wars and it's taken the shine off swimming," said Foster.

"Michael Phelps is the best swimmer in the world but someone wearing a Jaked suit will beat him if he's using a Speedo suit - they are that effective."

More than 100 world records have been beaten in the past 18 months, with most falling to swimmers using the new fully-covered suits.

Fina were set to ban the all-polyurethane suits before bowing to pressure from sportswear manufacturers and performing a dramatic U-turn.


"I want to see the sport go back to a pair of swimming trunks but that will never happen because this has gone too far now. There's also too much money involved in the swimsuit manufacturers," added Foster.

"To me these suits are the equivalent of steroids.

"The men's 50m freestyle has improved by half a second. I tried for so many years to improve by 0.1 of a second. Put a new suit on and you can shave half a second off."

Foster continued: "It's not about the swimmers, it's about the suits. The suits are making the difference and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.

"Some people say they're good for swimming because it means world records are being broken all of the time, but I think they make a mockery of the sport."

Sponsorship deals could mean certain athletes may be at a disadvantage by not being able to wear the new suits.

I have no doubt that the voice of swimming will make itself heard if what I expect to happen in Rome happens

GB national performance director Michael Scott

And Foster added: "If swimsuit manufacturers make them all accessible, so everyone can wear the same suit if they choose, then that's better.

"But there's a grey area because some federations have sponsors and will be obliged to wear their suits, even though they may not be the best.

"Phelps is sponsored by Speedo and won't be able to wear this Jaked suit. Speedo will have to make a new suit for him."

British 400m swimmer Jo Jackson saw her world record reclaimed last week by Federica Pellegrini, who was wearing the controversial Jaked 01.

"There are a lot of things going on with suits at the moment, but you've just got to get in there, forget about that and wear what you want to wear," said 22-year-old Olympic bronze medallist Jackson.

But national performance director Michael Scott has predicted results in Rome will lead to a massive backlash against Fina's U-turn.

"I have no doubt that the voice of swimming will make itself heard if what I expect to happen in Rome happens," said the Australian.

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see also
Swimming calendar
17 Oct 00 |  Swimming
Fina approves controversial suits
22 Jun 09 |  Swimming
Pellegrini takes back 400m record
27 Jun 09 |  Swimming
Adlington edges Jackson in 800m
26 Jun 09 |  Swimming

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