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LZR Racer

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April 2008

MANCHESTER, England (AP) -- FINA president Mustapha Larfaoui defended swimmers Wednesday who have broken world records in Speedo's new high-tech LZR Racer suit.

Italy head coach Alberto Castagnetti has said wearing the suit is "technological doping."

At the same time, though, Larfaoui is open to changing the rules if the swimsuit's ultra-lightweight technology, based on NASA intelligence, is deemed to give competitors an unfair advantage.

"If we have enough evidence, why not?" he said. "I am not an expert on material on swimsuits. We have confidence in the experts.

"We are open to receive any expertise and then our responsibility is to see what we want to do ... I can't tell you what will be the decision."

FINA will meet Saturday with swimsuit manufacturers Speedo, Arena, Diana, Nike and Adidas at the short-course world championships in Manchester.

Larfaoui is insistent that all swimmers should have access to the technology, despite criticism of the slick suit over its buoyancy.

"It's a lot different," Olympic champion Ryan Lochte said. "There's a lot more places on the suit where it's more compressed and it helps out a lot.

"It basically helps you float and makes you feel like you are swimming downhill."

The LZR has been worn for 18 of the 19 world records set since it was introduced in February.

"If there is improvement, welcome, this is our goal to improve our sport," Larfaoui said. "We are always happy for world records to be broken. Our only condition is that we need ask all the manufacturers when [we] approve swimsuits [that] this should be available for anybody at FINA conditions."

Italy head coach Alberto Castagnetti has said wearing the suit is "technological doping."

"We talk about technological doping, but really I'm concerned about the athletes," Larfaoui said. "We are talking a lot about the swimsuits, but we're not talking about the athletes. The athletes are making a lot of effort and they are working every day very hard.

"We are in an Olympic year and everyone is trying to do their best."

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