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FINA approves controversial swimsuits

World swimming body FINA on Monday approved a list of swimsuits which have caused controversy in recent months for the apparent performance advantage they give in the water.

It means that new world records set by French sprinters Alain Bernard and Frederic Bousquet are now likely to stand.

Bernard was equipped with Arena's 'X-Glide', which is part-polyurethane, when he set a new 100m world record of 46.94sec at the French championships in Montpellier in April.

Bousquet wore the all-polyurethane 'Jaked 01', the most controversial of the existing suits, when he beat Australian Eamon Sullivan's previous best world mark of 21.28 in the 50m in a time of 20.94.

The list approved by FINA on Monday is valid for the whole of 2009, including the world championships in Rome on July 26-August 2.

The emergence of swimsuits in recent years has caused controversy in the sport because some experts, including some top swimmers, believe their use gives an unfair advantage in the pool.

In particular critics of the all-polyurethane suits claim the compression and buoyancy which results from their use, called 'air-trapping', helps boost speed.

Because of the growing controversy FINA decided on a full review of the 348 swim suits on the market. Last month 10 were rejected outright and 136 were recommended for modification.

Arena's 'X-Glide' and the 'Jaked 01' did not appear on FINA's approved list but FINA did not specify whether they were rejected outright or whether they appeared on the 'to be modified' list.

The Jaked 01 then went before a FINA panel a second time and, without having any modifications, was approved. Jaked, an Italian company, equip the team of Italy, which will host the world championships next month.

The X-Glide was also presented a second time and, after slight modifications to reduce the amount of polyurethane used, FINA gave the suit its approval.


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