Over at The Machinist, Salon tech writer Farhad Manjoo questions whether Speedo’s new LZR swimsuit constitutes tech doping. According to Speedo, the suit helps to streamline the swimmer’s body and reduce drag on the body. The LZR was introduced in February this year and has been worn for 21 of the 22 world records set since then. The suit costs $500 and for professional swimmers, must be replaced every tenth swim, so needless to say, wealthier swim teams have an advantage. While some swimmers and coaches have embraced the suit others are calling foul and claim that wearing it constitutes technological doping.
In athletics, the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) last year banned South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius from competition due to the advantage given to him by his artificial limbs. Their ruling prohibited the use of “any technical device that incorporates springs, wheels or any other element that provides a user with an advantage over another athlete not using such a device“.
Now, obviously the two sports are not ruled by the same governing body but surely doping – whether chemical or technical – should be governed by similar rules across the different types of sports. And by this reasoning, the LZR suit should be banned.
Of course, that begs the question, how do you decide what criteria to use when judging whether a piece of technology – be it artificial limbs or swimwear – provides an athlete with an advantage over others?
Personally, I say they should all swim nekkid. It’s common knowledge that professional swimmers have the buffest bods.