Speedo says decision could hurt sport

ROME -- Speedo, the company that launched the assault on swimming worlds records with its revolutionary LZR Racer suit, blasted the sport's governing body Saturday for its decision to ban high-tech bodysuits.

FINA ruled Friday that males will be restricted to suits that run from the waist to the knees (known as jammers) and females to suits that can't go past the shoulders or below the knees.

Speedo, which sponsors prominent teams such as the United States, Australia and Britain, accused FINA of making a rash decision that will ultimately harm the sport.

"As a forward thinking company that has invested millions in [research and development], we believe that technology -- properly monitored and adhering to guidelines -- does have a place in all sport," the company said in a statement. "Any move which seems to take the sport back two decades -- such as a possible return to the traditional female swimsuit and male jammer -- is a retrograde step that could be detrimental to the future of swimming."

Speedo's suit was worn by most swimmers involved in more than 100 records set in 2008. Since then, polyurethane suits made by companies such as Jaked have surpassed the LZR, with nearly 30 more records falling this year. Finally, FINA decided to impose restrictions that supporters say are needed to maintain the integrity of the sport.

Speedo said its suit should not be lumped in with so-called rubberized suits that are thought to aid buoyancy.

"We recognize the catastrophic effect and controversy that the introduction of fully nonpermeable wetsuits by certain manufacturers has had on the sport of swimming in recent months," the statement said. "Speedo has always believed that there is no place in the sport for buoyancy aids."

The company said its suit has helped boost the popularity and profile of swimming.

"The Speedo LZR Racer suit, which was developed in strict accordance with FINA rules and regulations and fully approved by FINA in 2007, has had an unprecedented positive impact on the sport of swimming since its launch," Speedo said. "Developed over a three year period with the input of over 400 swimmers, coaches and experts, the swimming community by and large welcomed the benefits the suit brings whilst recognizing that it upheld the integrity of athletes as it does not aid buoyancy.

"For over 80 years, we have taken a lead role in supporting the sport from grassroots all the way to elite levels. We have been responsible for every major 'legal' innovation in swimwear since 1928. Speedo remains totally dedicated to the sport of swimming at every level."