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If FINA Ruling Holds, Business Would Change

Friday, 24 Jul 2009 | 4:09 PM ET
FINA
Source: fina.org
FINA

Following the success of the full body Speedo LZR racer over the past couple years, the swimsuit business dramatically changed.

Some companies, either not willing to spend money to keep up with the newest slick versions or not confident that they could generate enough sales at high price points to make the endeavor worth it, left the business.

Others - like blueseventy and Jaked - emerged, seeing this move as a great equalizer, as swimmers would ditch traditional stalwart brands if they could break records in the latest and greatest, even if it were from a new company.

But word comes today that FINA, swimming's governing body, will effectively outlaw the suits - perhaps both in fabric and in fit -- that many said alone helped break records over the last couple years, a legal technological doping of sorts.

Reports say that FINA has said that no suit that improves speed, buoyancy or endurance could be used during a competition next year. Those were the exact selling points of the new suits.

If this holds up, and we're not sure it will, it could lead to the biggest reversal of a business due to a governing body's ruling in the history of sports. Just think about all the young competitive swimmers all over the world, who bought the Speedo suits, amoritizing the $500 cost over a couple years to better swallow the price.

What do they do now? What happens to Jaked and blueseventy? What happens to the inventory that Speedo, which by the way is an official FINA sponsor, has? That could be a huge write off. Does And how about Nike and Under Armour , which has been thinking about getting into the business? If there's a greater general consumer application -- since it won't be all about racing suits -- will they get into the game where the top athletes will be wearing the materials similar to what was worn a decade ago?

Who knows if this will come to fruition by the time next year comes. All I know is there's a lot on the line. For the companies who have thrown their entire budget at the tech war and for the athletes who could be the first clean athletes ever to get asterisks due to the slick swimsuit era.

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