BANGKOK, April 30 (Reuters) - A new space-age swimsuit could provide a “convenient distraction” for drug cheats, top U.S sprinter Gary Hall Jr said on Wednesday.
Hall, winner of five Olympic gold medals, said there was a danger that instances of doping could be overlooked because of rave reviews given to Speedo’s controversial LZR Racer bodysuit which has been developed with NASA’s help.
“There’s obviously something there besides technology,” Hall told Reuters in a telephone interview.
“I don’t want it to take the attention away from the performances but there’s doping going on in sports.
“It’s a convenient distraction for the people who dope and those who aren’t cracking down on it.”
The LZR was approved by governing body FINA last year. Its manufacturer says the suit can carve up to two percent off race times.
Hall, aiming to become the first swimmer to win the same event at three successive Olympics, added: “I think there really is something with the suit. But if people don’t think there’s doping in their sport, then they’re fools.”
The 33-year-old, who was suspended in 1998 for using marijuana, said swimming was in danger of losing credibility because drug testing had not been stringent enough.
Australian customs officials who seized performance-enhancing drugs in swimmers’ luggage in the 1990s had done more to stamp out doping, he added.
“I see swimming making the same mistakes as cycling and baseball,” said Hall, who won the 50 freestyle gold at the Sydney and Athens Olympics.
“They’re more interested in testing someone for taking cold remedies than they are those taking designer drugs.” (Editing by Clare Fallon)