The big story this year in competitive swimming is the LZR Racer swimsuit, which was developed by the British sportswear manufacturer Speedo. At least six world records have been set by swimmers wearing the suit. Studies have shown that its drag-diminishing properties lower racing times by 1.9 to 2.2 percent, which is significant in a sport where victory is measured by hundredths of a second.
There is no doubt that the suits are helping swimmers. The real question is: Do they provide their wearers with an unfair advantage over swimmers who don’t wear them? The answer seems to be “yes,” with even the official blog of the National Collegiate Athletics Association wondering if the LZR Racer constitutes “technology doping.” What’s the difference between gaining an advantage with a swimsuit and gaining an advantage by taking performance-enhancing drugs?
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