FINA moves up bodysuit ban

ROME -- No need to worry about a Michael Phelps boycott.

Swimming's governing body will ban record-breaking bodysuits beginning Jan. 1, a move that comes partly in response to a threat from Phelps' coach to pull his swimmer from competition until the suits are outlawed.

"It's going to be cool come Jan. 1 to be able to have all of us pretty much wearing the same suit," Phelps said Friday after swimming the leadoff leg as the Americans broke the world record in the 800 freestyle relay. "All of this is going to be finished and then we're going to be able to talk about swimming again, not suits."

Earlier this week, FINA announced a ban but said it might not come into effect until April or May.

"Now, without a doubt, the rules are applying Jan. 1, 2010," FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu said Friday. "The manufacturers are ready and can begin [suit] submissions Nov. 1 or before."

The comments from Phelps' coach, Bob Bowman, came immediately after the swimmer was upset by unheralded Paul Biedermann of Germany in the 200-meter freestyle Tuesday. Biedermann wore a 100 percent polyurethane Arena suit, while Phelps stuck with last year's Speedo LZR Racer, which is less than half polyurethane. This year suits from Italian manufacturers Arena and Jaked are considered faster.

Last year, Phelps and others wearing the LZR profited from its increased speed. Under the new rules, it, as well as the Arena and Jaked suits will be banned. Men will be restricted to suits that extend from the waist to the top of the knees; women's suits cannot go past the shoulders or beyond the knees.

"I'm just thrilled that they did it, because it's the right thing to do," Bowman said. "We know they want to do the right thing for the sport, they just need to do it, so I'm glad to hear it and so is Michael.

"We'll probably keep our competition schedule. There will be some little questions about what suit is he going to wear until the end of the year, but they're minor. In training I don't care."

FINA plans to issue new suit guidelines to manufacturers by Sept. 30 and thought about delaying implementation for a few months to give the companies enough time to produce new suits.

With two days still to go, 35 world records have been set at these world championships, five more than at the last edition two years ago in Melbourne, Australia.

FINA also announced a rule requiring suits to be approved one year before Olympics or world championships, and available commercially six months in advance.

A scientific commission with materials experts from each continent will approve swimsuits and monitor developments in technology, FINA said.

USA Swimming is considering installing the new suit rules for domestic competition before the end of the year. Polyurethane bodysuits will be banned for a Duel in the Pool competition in Manchester, England, in December, with the United States facing an all-star team from France, Russia and Britain.

"We met after prelims this morning and agreed to adopt the rules for that meet," USA Swimming executive director Chuck Wielgus said. "Whether or not USA Swimming adopts those rules any sooner is something we'll talk about when we get home."