Bodysuit rumpus: Can the logo go?

'Swimmers just want to wear suits of their choice which will give greatest chance of success'

The men in suits have stepped into the row over bodysuits. The ongoing dispute over what British swimmers can or cannot wear in the Sydney Olympics took a new twist last night when lawyers representing competitors wrote to manufacturers Speedo asking for the company's logo to be withdrawn from the performance-enhancing suits at the centre of the controversy.

The men in suits have stepped into the row over bodysuits. The ongoing dispute over what British swimmers can or cannot wear in the Sydney Olympics took a new twist last night when lawyers representing competitors wrote to manufacturers Speedo asking for the company's logo to be withdrawn from the performance-enhancing suits at the centre of the controversy.

This has been the sticking point in a dispute which, according to David Sparkes, chief executive of the Amateur Swimnming Federation of Great Britain, has been unsettling those taking part in the current Olympic trials in Sheffield.

The British Olympic Association, who have an overall kit contract with Adidas, bowed to the request of the swimmers, many of whom have deals with rivals Speedo, to have freedom of choice, including Speedo's all-in-one Fastskin "Sharksuit" rather than the official Adidas version, providing it was unbranded.

But Speedo have insisted that their logo appears on their all-black suit, much to the annoyance of the BOA. "We certainly did not want our athletes to feel pyschologically disavantaged because they were wearing different suits in Sydney to the ones they have become used to," said BOA spokesman Mark Howell. "We have made concessions to Speedo all the way on this, except in the case of the logo. But it seems they were determined to bully their way into having their brand image on the British team."

Originally the BOA had insisted that the suits were the official blue with a red stripe but Speedo said they were unable to manufacture them with this livery in time.

Now the Athletes Council of the Federation have hired the firm of legal sports rights specialists who also represent Manchester United, in an attempt to end the deadlock. Tomorrow Speedo will receive a letter stating that the swimmers would like the logo removed and the matter resolved. "As far as the swimmers are concerned they fully appreciate the various commercial and other interests involved but they just want to be able to wear the bodysuits of their choice which will give them the greatest chance of success at the Olympics," say the lawyers.

The final nominations for the Olympic squad will be made in Sheffield tonight. "This whole matter should have been wrapped up months ago," says Sparkes. "But by the time the BOA got round to considering it, it was all too late. Now it seems ridiculous that there should be this argument over 16 square centimetres of cloth. The logo won't make the swimmers go any faster."

The Fastkin, which is claimed to improve performances by up to three per cent, is worn by a number of British medal prospects, including the world short-course 200 metres champion James Hickman.

Another swimwear manufacturer, Arena, has already agreed to let British swimmers wear its suits unbranded.

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