Swimming: Phelps boycott threatened over suit delay

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US superstar Michael Phelps will be told by his coach to boycott international swimming until FINA end the swimsuit circus that has turned the Rome world championships into a farce.

Phelps' coach Bob Bowman told reporters at the Foro Italico that he would recommend Phelps not race internationally until FINA carried out all the demands from the swimming community to end the suit saga once and for all.

FINA announced today the new regulations to govern swim suit styles, but did not put a definitive date on the implementation of the new guidelines saying only it would come into effect in "April or May" 2010.

The rules would be defined and given to swimsuit manufacturers by September 30, but FINA want to then give the makers time to produce enough suits for the athletes.

The lack of finality has angered swimmers and coaches who are fed up with FINA's pandering to swim suit manufacturers.

Phelps said he would follow Bowman's advise on all swimming matters, including a possible boycott of international racing.

"He told me," Phelps said when asked about Bowman's boycott threat.

"Bob chooses where I swim. He chooses the meets I swim in. He chooses what is right for me and right for my training. That is his decision.

"I have one meet I am looking forward to the most and that's in three years.

"That is the one thing I have on my mind."

"FINA is going to make the decision. I can't go in and make the decision for them."

The date could also have serious ramifications for the Australian team who are set to contest the trials for the Pan Pacific Championships in Sydney next March.

Australia, USA, Canada and Japan officials will have a meeting later this week to discuss next year's PanPacs and it is likely the suit issue will be on the agenda.

Phelps lost his 200m freestyle world record overnight (NZT) when German Paul Biedermann swam away from him on the final lap to clock 1min 42.00sec, almost a full second faster than the US star swam in Beijing last year.

Asked what he thought of the fact swimming had lost world records belonging to legends such as Ian Thorpe, Inge de Bruijn and now himself at the Rome world championships, Phelps was scathing.

"The one thing that has really, really changed over the last few years has been the technology in the sport. It's changed the sport completely," he said.

"Now it's not swimming. The headlines are always who is wearing what suit. It's not swimming and I'm looking forward to the day when we can call our sport swimming again."

Australian head coach Alan Thompson said he doubted Phelps would skip next year's PanPacs in the US, the American's only major international meet outside of short course racing, especially considering the competing nations can agree on their own rules if FINA has not implemented their suit rules by that stage.

However, Thompson agreed any boycott by Phelps would send an incredibly strong message.

"The people with the greatest amount of leverage are the athletes," he said.

"Us coaches have been there bashing our heads against the brick wall for a long time.

"I think we started to get a bit of influence in there but it was just overwhelming the support that came from the congress floor the other day. That cannot be ignored, so many nations telling the governing body what to do.

"We've got to get the date in and keep it solid."

Thompson said he was disappointed FINA couldn't put a definitive date on the new rules.

He said if manufacturers could get themselves organised in a month to have enough suits for all competitors in Rome, surely they could be ready to roll come January 1st 2010.

"April-May is probably not what people would have liked to have heard .... we needed that definitive decision today.

"The manufacturers were able to produce enough suits to satisfy everyone and more in a two or three week window so if there's the desire to do it, it can be done."

Sourced from: The New Zealand Herald