Monday, June 30, 2008

Speedo LZR Racer Suit: Is Michael Phelps Cheating?

I don't know how athletes convince themselves that it's OK to cheat by using banned performance-enhancing drugs.

What good are medals and honors and world records if they're tainted?

Watching the U.S. Olympic swimming trials, it was exciting to see records set. It didn't cross my mind that the new records were undeserved.

I know about the
Speedo LZR Racer Suit controversy, but I really don't see why some people are complaining about that.

Phelps's quest to top Mark Spitz's seven gold medals is only the second biggest swim story in the run-up to the Olympics. Speedo's LZR Racer swimsuit is causing the biggest splash in and out of the pool. The rubbery full-body corset would look more at home in a Batman movie than on the pool deck. But since it was introduced in February, swimmers wearing it have set a stunning 38 world records. Rivals' suits have set just three world records during that time, which has them crying foul (while scrambling to come up with their own sci-fi suits). The coach of the Italian team calls the LZR Racer "technological doping." The second largest U.S. swimwear maker, TYR, filed a federal lawsuit in California, alleging anticompetitive practices, against Speedo's parent company, the coach of the U.S. swim team and even a TYR endorser, Olympic medalist Erik Vendt, who switched to the Speedo. A Japanese swimmer under contract to Mizuno just set a world record in a LZR (pronounced laser), which he'll wear in Beijing. Swimming's governing body, FINA, approved the LZR for the Olympics, but controversy still swirls, which is fine by Speedo. "It's very nice to have your competitors recognize they're at a disadvantage," says Speedo's marketing chief Stu Isaac. "They're doing our marketing for us."

..."The swimmer makes the suit, not the other way around," says [Michael Phelps' coach Bob] Bowman.

"Swimming's governing body, FINA, approved the LZR for the Olympics."

Swimmers wearing the suit shouldn't be accused of "technological doping."

They're following the rules of the sport. End of story.

There's nothing wrong with swimming in a suit approved for Olympic competition.

Using banned substances to enhance one's performance is an entirely different matter.

OMAHA, Neb. -- Phelps set a world record in his first event of the U.S. Olympic swimming trials, touching just ahead of Ryan Lochte to win the 400-meter individual medley in 4 minutes, 5.25 seconds Sunday night.

Katie Hoff matched her former North Baltimore teammate in the 400 IM, taking down the women's mark in 4:31.12.

Overshadowing the new records were comments made by swimming veteran Gary Hall Jr. on Sunday, expressing concern over his belief that swimmers are using performance-enhancing drugs to give them a boost in the pool.

''To think that it doesn't exist is foolish,'' Hall said. ''All doping scandals are not a direct result of positive tests. They're usually somebody getting caught by some other means. I don't think that we can rely on a doping agency to really catch the people that are so far ahead of where the testing is.''

Hall said he was speaking out because he's worried about the future of a sport he began in as a youngster. He said the public suspicion directed toward many of today's athletic accomplishments ''can be very depressing and it has been very frustrating for a lot of clean athletes.''

He mentioned the 1976 Montreal Olympics, where the East German women piled up gold medals. They were later found to have cheated through steroid use, but at the time they credited their world records and success to the type of swimsuit they wore.

''Clearly we know now it wasn't the suit that was causing all these world records to be broken. It was copious amounts of steroids,'' Hall said. ''Can the suit technology distract from another issue? I think it's pretty convenient for those that are indulging the other issue.''

Hall acknowledged he has no positive drug tests to back up his comments.

''Unfortunately, we rely on an inadequate doping system and doping agencies for the proof,'' he said. ''We live in a society where innocent until proven guilty, the key word being proven, and we don't have any way of proving these people are cheating. We never did.''

I think it's wrong for Hall to toss around accusations without any proof.

In the case of the East German swimmers, it was clear that something was terribly amiss. It wasn't just their success in the pool that tipped people off.

For example:
When a rival coach noted with some sarcasm that the voices of many of the East German women were unusually deep -- a telltale sign of the effects of steroid use in females -- an East German coach replied, "We came here to swim, not sing."

Being on a regimen of anabolic steroids and other banned substances is completely different from competing in an APPROVED suit.

Hall's claims of doping are extremely serious. In effect, he's calling out Michael Phelps and other superior American swimmers as cheaters.

He's frustrated with the "innocent until proven guilty" concept.

I think he needs to be patient. If the American swimmers have an edge based on doping, then that will come out eventually as it did with the East Germans. They will be shamed like Marion Jones.

The accomplishments of Michael Phelps and others will be discredited and they will take their place in Olympic history among the disgraced.

The champions will be identified as cheaters. They will be losers. But at this point, Hall is the loser.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Okay listen!!!!! Michael Phlps takes random drug testing!!! He IS NOT doping!!! Dont be mad of his acomplishments!! He broke records BEFORE the suit and will continue breaking them after!!!

Mary said...

Michael Phelps can't be accused of cheating for wearing a suit that's sanctioned for Olympic competition.

When it comes to doping, I assume he's being tested. He deserves a presumption of innocence.

Good luck, Michael Phelps!

Dr.Koudinov said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dr.Koudinov said...

Phelps is Cheating, but with something else: First Beijing Swimming Gold belongs to Laszlo Cseh of Hungary, not doped American Michael Phelps

or:

Doping by the pool invalidates Phelps first American swimming Olympic gold, world record

During Athens 2004 Summer Olympic games we explained why music by the pool is a behavioral doping and prohibited by World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in competition blood-doping method of "the use of products that enhance the uptake, transport or delivery of oxygen" (Doping J 27 August 2004). We based our conclusion on the analysis of the previously published research (J Nurs Res. 2003 Sep) that showed how in humans, music makes saturation of oxyhemoglobin significantly higher (compared with control subjects not receiving music therapy), and that as a result of music the level of oxygen saturation returns to the baseline faster (compared to the control subjects receiving no music), making it hard to detect the transient enhancement of the blood oxygen capacity shortly thereafter. These data clearly imply that music by the pool is not yet recognized blood-doping method that conflicts with the essence of olympism, and WADA/IOC calls for "ethics, fair play and honestly". Wearing headphones by Michael Phelps today morning less the two minutes before the 400 metres individual medley men start well qualifies an invalidation of the American first swimming Olympic gold and world record by Phelps in favor of Hungarian Laszlo Cseh. For more information please visit www.dopingjournal.org

Mary said...

Oh good grief.

Anonymous said...

Read the WADA rules. There's no mention of music anywhere in their definition of doping. There's nothing illegal with listening to music before a meet. For you to call Phelps a cheater on these grounds is baseless and libelous.

Geek in the Pink said...

He made Six golds at the 2004 Olympics. Seven golds at the 2007 Worlds. Michael Phelps will enter eight races in Beijing within reach of multiple records, including most career Olympic golds (9) and most golds at a single Games (7).

And now Phelps wins 400m, takes gold and breaks his own world record in the 400m IM.

see Michael Phelps 2008 Olympic Winning Moment Photos

Would he take 8 Gold medals this time?

Anonymous said...

Oh Shut Up Dr.Koudinov

hmmm said...

i raced lazio cesh a few years back and remember seeing him with earphones on listening to his music... doesn't that make him a cheat too... wait practicully every athlete does it, disqulify them all, the only person left is you dr koudinov, congratulations you have just won every male or female event you could contest in because you the only one who doesn't listen to music before a race... wait no phelps has the gold... but how can that be, hmmm maybe because your telling little white lies and its ok to listen to music to ease the nerves before a race. i'm gonna keep doing but it still has helped me win a race... bloody 5th position.

Anonymous said...

Well, what is is now... 5 gold medals and all in world record time and with very little time in between competitions? Is anyone seriously thinking that this just the result of hard training - which I'm sure all the other swimmers have as well.

Mary said...

Does anyone think that Mark Spitz was cheating when he won 7 gold and set 7 world records in Munich?

What was that about?

I think it's possible for athletes to achieve great things through training.

I believe that Michael Phelps' success is the result of his years of dedication to make the most of his God-given ability.

Is it jealously that makes people want to discredit his achievements?

Anonymous said...

I find Americans are disgusting. They will encourage, condone, and do whatever it takes to win. How can the rest of the world respect Americans, the so called champion of democracy and a shameless Big Cheater?

Mary said...

Anonymous, 6:41 PM, August 13, 2008--

Where are you from?

If you live in a democracy, chances are you are free because of America.

Anonymous said...

I was reading yesterday morning's edition of The Baltimore Sun and it talks about Mark Spitz not giving an invitation to attend the Olympics to see if Michael Phelps breaks his record of 7 gold medals without acknowledging him with gratitude or something for his accomplishment.

If you would like to read the story you can go to: http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/sports/specialevents/blog/2008/08/dear_mark_spitz_get_over_it_mo.html

Anonymous said...

Ya, right Mary. Oh btw, here is something for you:

According to Gary Hall Jr. last Sunday about your hero, Michael Phelps, of using performance enhancing drugs in swimming:

''To think that it doesn't exist is foolish,'' Hall said. ''All doping scandals are not a direct result of positive tests. They're usually somebody getting caught by some other means. I don't think that we can rely on a doping agency to really catch the people that are so far ahead of where the testing is.''

What say you , Now!

Mary said...

Anonymous, 1:24 AM, August 14, 2008--

On sports talk radio, I heard Mark Spitz discussing being snubbed. He said he felt he should be invited to attend. He went on to joke that he would want to be the one to give Phelps his 7th gold medal. I think it was 7 and not 8.

I think it would be nice for Spitz to be there. Roger Maris' children were there when Mark McGwire broke his record.

Mary said...

Anonymous, 9:39 AM, August 14, 2008--

What say I now? I said it on June 30, 2008!

Read my post.

Regarding Hall's remarks, I wrote:

I think it's wrong for Hall to toss around accusations without any proof.

Hall's claims of doping are extremely serious. In effect, he's calling out Michael Phelps and other superior American swimmers as cheaters.

He's frustrated with the "innocent until proven guilty" concept.

I think he needs to be patient. If the American swimmers have an edge based on doping, then that will come out eventually as it did with the East Germans. They will be shamed like Marion Jones.

Anonymous said...

"They will be shamed like Marion Jones."


So what! By then, they would have made their millions in endorsement already, just like Marion did. It’s the American way, everyone is for himself.

Mary said...

The American way is not everyone for himself.

Americans have liberated millions of people.

Americans have sacrificed so much for others.

You, "anonymous," don't even have the courage to use your name.

Marion Jones destroyed her good name. That's not worth millions of dollars. She's paying the price for her misdeeds.

I do not believe that Michael Phelps is willing to bring shame to himself and his family by cheating. It's about honor.

Anonymous said...

[“Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn's …”]

You poor, poor, naive soul. Everyone has a price. It is a question of how much!

Mary said...

You poor, poor cynic.

My good name and my word is not for sale. I can't be bought.

Apparently, you can be. It's a shame that you haven't been exposed to anyone of character, someone you can trust.

There are legitimate champions. There are real heroes. It's sad that you have no faith in people.

SAM said...

Its really funny how they are trying to accuse us americans of cheating when the chinese are the true cheaters(not in swimming though). Even if it was the suit winning for them, its not as if the Chinese made the suit for them. No, it would be americans using their brains that some people (anonymous poster) doesnt seem to have. It pathetic to accuse him of drugs, do you know how many times he has been tested and do you know that he doesnt mind beng checked. as the first poster said, he broke them before, and with his hard work will continue to break them.
The true winners at cheating is China. Too bad they cant cheat at swimming. :(. Thats all they seem to be good at, coming up with ways to decieve the public while winning. They put basketball players through so much pain, and even sign up an underage girl for the gymnasticsolympics. And yes, SHE IS UNDERAGE. She signed up as 13 for her previous competition, and how come china was so quick at correcting a blog and changing her age when they posted her as 14? And why does her birth certificate show 1992? Seriously. China needs to start actually working towards the win in a fair way.

And to doctor kudinov: Why doesnt your hungarian swimmer wear headphones and listen to music then if it helps so much?

Anonymous said...

"Americans are not cheaters".

Let us indeed recall that Marion Jones, Floyd Landis, Lance Armstrong, the whole bunch of baseball players, Carl Lewis, Jessica Hardy, etc... etc... are not Americans.

Then they throw a fit because giant China is about to mop the floor with their ass. It won't take too long before America starts demanding that medal counts be scaled by the demographics of the countries competing. In which case, they will be flabbergasted to learn that in such a fair ranking system, America places ... 11th. After Germany, France, Italy, UK, etc... etc...

Mary said...

Anonymous, 12:09 AM, August 15, 2008--

You cite a quote: "Americans are not cheaters".

Where did you get that? Who said that?

Clearly, Americans have cheated in Olympic competition. Marion Jones is an example. She disgraced herself. No question about it.

However, there's a break in your logic to leap to the conclusion that Jones' cheating means Phelps or any other American is cheating.

Team USA is doing a fantastic job.

Phelps just picked up gold medal #6. He's an incredible athlete.

Anonymous said...

Of course Michael Phelps is shamelessly cheating. How is it that he is the only one that is running the most races, but is the least tired? The 200m race in which he has won by more than 2.4 seconds (2-body length) was way beyond any statistical averages among the world’s best and considering he has just participated in other qualifying runs shortly before. On his 7th win, he figured out that he has to slow down to make the race looks closer, just to NOT look so suspicious.

The gimmick of IPOD and Speedo-ware is only a distraction created by his PR team. Everyone knows the current testing mechanism cannot positively identify the state-of the-art substances. Haven’t you noticed that even his facial feature looks different, as if he had a plastic surgery since arriving?

Anonymous said...

Just because China has won more gold medals doesn’t mean they’re cheating. They have a population of 1.3 billion, so obviously they should produce more gold medals based on per capita basis alone. As far as the “underage girls” of gymnastic are concerned, both the IOC and International Gymnastics Federation have verified these claims. They have concluded that the allegation was unfounded after verifying their passports. Unless, you are now claiming the girls’ passports were fake/falsified … well, so much for the “NO-FLY-LIST” of Home-Land-Security.

Anonymous said...

Okay Anonymous, you win.
Obviously since you have a low opinion of Americans and since individuals have cheated in the past, then you must be correct. I am sure no one from your country has ever cheated and we must apologize as a nation becuase clearly our moral fiber is corrupted.

Get a grip man(or woman) surely you feel that emotion is writing for you. If you are blogging to make people mad, you are succeeding, congrats, enjoy the attention.

Please realize that there are people that work hard from every country and acheive amazing things without using illegal substances. It is not about your nationlistic pride or mine, but about each individual athlete competing. It is the point of the olympics, not a measuring contest about which country has a taller stack of medals.

Music by the way has the same effect as a good memory, in the way that it stimulates the blood flow and capalaries. Also smiling from a pleasantry like a cheering crwod will produce endorphines. You should make the room silent, keep athletes from thinking and keep headphones out of their ears to make it as fair aas you are claiming it needs to be.

Anonymous said...

I suppose people will call me jealous, sour grapes, whatever, but here's my two cents. Swimming should be about the swimmers. Not the suits. To that end, I say all future swimming competitions should have standardised suits for all competitors. The only real difficulty I see in that regard is deciding who is in charge of producing those suits. :/

Mary said...

The suit was approved for Olympic competition.

Wearing the suit isn't cheating.

The Americans can't be faulted for following the rules.

Rather than admiring Phelps for his tremendous accomplishments, "anonymous 11:53 AM, August 16, 2008" accuses him of "shamelessly cheating."

Such accusations are baseless. And I think Phelps is just a little bit tired after this grueling meet.

ylla said...

This is crazy, it's interesting how my fellow Americans get so heated and offended. If there is no doubt in your mind than quite simply there is no point in arguing. People of all nations can't wait to get offended, and here we are blaming the war mongers when we ourselves are fighting each other in a battle of words desperate to prove the other wrong. LET IT GO.

Anonymous said...

First of all, taking Phelps as a representation of Americans is simply not fair. If he IS cheating, mary is right, it will come out and he will be shamed... if he's not, then who's worse off now? Only the people who cannot swallow their pride and admit that a spoiled American actually has some skill.

Mary said...

Phelps wasn't handed his honors on a silver platter.

He's worked to achieve what he has accomplished in Beijing since he was a little kid. He's overcome tremendous obstacles.

He's to be admired, not smeared.

Anonymous said...

In general, I noticed how all the comments defending the NBC Phelps hype are female. Their posts read very similar to that of groupies defending the “Jonas Brothers” (”You are jealous”, “He is amazing”, “Get over it”, “He is King” etc.)

Mary said...

It's ridiculous to suggest that admirers of Phelps' achievements skew female.

When did females take over Sports Illustrated?

Groupies defending the Jonas Brothers?

Yeah, no.

Anonymous said...

y u accuse the chinese team for being underage without proof but not accuse Phelps cheated
cuz ur americans?
i dont think phelps cheated.and i wont say the Chinese cheated either

Mary said...

There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that Michael Phelps cheated his way to Olympic gold.

However, there IS evidence that calls the ages of the Chinese gymnasts into question.

That's the difference.

Anonymous said...

M Phelps cannot be accused of cheating if he follows the rules, that is non-sense.

However, his achievements as any other athlete's can be contextualized based on the aids they may have received.

Thus, for example, if there is proof that his swimming suit may well have given him extra-athletic (no directly related to his physical performance) advantage on rivals his 8 medals may not even match Spitz's 7 feat.

Nevertheless the record is his, because records are quantitative and not qualitative measure by definition. It is more simple for the general public that way.

This is perhaps unfair sometimes but normally the best get the price. At least I like to think so.