Phelps’ coach threatens to pull swimmer from meets
ROME (AP) — No bodysuit ban, no Michael Phelps.

That was the essence of what the Olympic great’s coach said Tuesday after swimming’s governing body confirmed bodysuits will be outlawed next year. The rule will not take effect until April or May, later than expected.

Bob Bowman spoke after Phelps lost a major race for the first time since 2005. He was beaten by a relative unknown wearing a suit that will be barred next year. Bowman said FINA should have banned bodysuits before these world championships because the value of world records was diminishing.

“Probably expect Michael not to swim until they are implemented,” Bowman said. “I’m done with this. It has to be implemented immediately. The sport is in shambles right now and they better do something or they’re going to lose their guy who fills these seats.

“That would be my recommendation to him, to not swim internationally – he might swim locally. But who knows. The mess needs to be stopped right now. This can’t go on any further.”

Phelps was upset by Paul Biedermann of Germany in the 200-meter freestyle final. Biedermann wore a 100 percent polyurethane Arena suit, while Phelps stuck with last year’s LZR Racer from Speedo because of contract obligations.

“We’ve lost all the history of the sport,” Bowman said. “Does a 10-year-old boy in Baltimore want to break Paul Biedermann’s record? Is that going to make him join swimming?

“It took Michael from 2003 to 2008 to go from 1:46 to 1:42.9 and this guy’s done it in 11 months. That’s an amazing training program. I would love to know how that works.”

Biedermann clocked 1 minute, 42.00 seconds, which knocked off Phelps’ world mark of 1:42.96 from the Beijing Olympics. It was Phelps’ first loss at a worlds or Olympics since the 2005 worlds in Montreal.

Phelps, who won a record eight gold medals in Beijing last year, started training with Bowman in Baltimore when he was 11.

“Bob chooses where I swim. He chooses the meets I’m going to swim in. He chooses what’s right for me and what’s right for my training,” Phelps said, adding that his main focus after Rome was on the 2012 London Olympics. “I have one meet that I’m looking forward to the most and that’s in three years.”

A FINA group Tuesday upheld last week’s decision to restrict males to suits that go from the waist to the top of the knees, while female suits cannot go past the shoulders or beyond the knees.

Suit materials will be restricted to “textiles,” a definition to be determined by a scientific committee. FINA also announced standards for buoyancy, thickness and permeability. The complete rules will be given to swimsuit companies by Sept. 30.

“The rules will be applied in 2010. That can be April or May. It depends on the time manufacturers need to pass from polyurethane to textiles,” FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu said.

FINA acted after dramatic leaps in technology the past 18 months led to a complete rewriting of the record book.

Through only three days of these championships, 15 world records have been set – matching the number from the last edition in Melbourne, Australia, two years ago. Five more days remain for this meet.

“I would be perfectly happy if we adjust all the records starting with the LZR. If we took them all out and went back to 2007,” Bowman said. “Even those in Beijing. We can have them in a separate list. These were done in polyurethane suits and then these are done in textile suits. Then we can start over in January and make the sport about swimming.”

USA Swimming executive director Chuck Wielgus agreed.

“These records in swimming have gotten to the point where they get a golf clap – just a polite applause,” Wielgus said. “They’re not as special and it just raises the expectations for the athletes.”

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