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New Swimsuit May Lead to Protests

March 16, 2000

ATHENS, Greece (AP) _ It was designed to help swimmers glide through the water like sharks. Now a new neck-to-ankle swimsuit has some officials worried it could hurt competition and lead to lawsuits.

Unveiled Thursday at the World Short Course Championships, Speedo’s new swimsuit claims to cut down on drag through the water.

``The swimsuit is not a cheat,″ said Joe Fields, president of Speedo International. ``It’s evolution, it looks revolutionary.″

But Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates expressed concern in Sydney Thursday that swimmers could expose themselves to legal challenges by wearing the swimsuits during the Olympics.

According to Paul Phedon, international marketing manager for Speedo International, the swimsuit has been approved by FINA, swimming’s world governing body. He claimed there should not be a problem with using it in the Olympics.

Coates said the Australian Olympic Committee had to advise athletes that wearing the suit could lead to protests by other swimmers. Each bodysuit costs an estimated $315, compared to $40 or less for a normal men’s brief.

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