The FINA executive and ruling Bureau is on the verge of denying 168 nations their full wish for a return to textiles and cutback in profile of swim suits from 2010, according to sources at the helm of world swimming.
SwimNews understands that, under pressure from Speedo, which wants to be able to sell full leggings of its FS-Pro for another year yet and would only be happy to go into mass production on shorts from September onwards, FINA are, incredibly, about to let the bull bleed to death in the stalls a little longer. It is time to kill the beast, time to put it out of its misery.
FINA got into this mess by dallying with one suit maker and now it looks like it is follow-up with the same disastrous model. Let's be clear: textile-only will be in by by January 1, 2010, but the cut of the suit is causing Speedo to go to extreme measures.
A senior source tells SwimNews: "A suit maker is coercing federations and swimmers to write to FINA to say that this must all be postponed. The implication is that if they don't, then support will be withdrawn."
SwimNews understands that Speedo has indicated to federations that it cannot supply the number of jammers that would be required by January 1, 2010.
There can be no question that FINA has decided to make the right move but timing remains an issue. As it deliberates ahead of a decision on suits due tomorrow, FINA must take its next move with care - but it must do so with the swimmer and the battered image of swimming the primary target of its vision. If the next move that the international federation makes is seen to favour the product - FS Pro - of a company that holds the status of "official kit partner" to FINA, while some suit makers will surely be forced to ditch whole production lines in the roll back to textile, swimming will slide further into disrepute around the world.
The message flowing from the new FINA Bureau since 168 nations voted last week for a return to textile and cut back in suit profile, is this: we have to consider the commercial interests of the suit makers.
But some suit makers are happy to state: we want what those 168 nations want because it is in the best interests of our clients, the swimmers, and therefore, ultimately, in our best interests too.
This heartening stance from a spokesman for TYR, a long-term player in the race pool suit market, a company that launched its Tracer Rise before the LZR hit the headlines in February 2008: "Why wait a year. Do it now. This feels like the May 19, June 19 thing. Surely they have learned. We have commercial positions at stake and we've got inventory worth about $1m at stake but we're willing to eat that in the interests of doing the right thing for swimming."
Di you get that FINA Bureau: in the interests of swimming. That's your line. Delivered for you on a plate. Tell it to the forces now beating a path to your door, an abacus in one hand, a stick in the other. Resist, FINA. It is time to do the right thing.
"We are not suggesting that Speedo ought to be punished," said TYR. "It is the major player in the market and has been a supporter of swimming for many years. But it is time to state this as a business position and not as a sports position."
The business position is this: there is a factory in Portugal that employs a fair few folk dedicated to rolling out LZRs. Apparently, we must all feel guilty about a potential loss of employment that may follow if Speedo suffers financially from what FINA does next.
But what Speedo wants to do next makes no commercial sense whatsoever. Consider this swimmers of the world: if by September 2010 (not Jan 1 as those 168 nations want), you know that leggings will never be allowed again, then why in a season in which there are no major world meets, would you wish to buy equipment that will be obsolete before the summer is out.
Shorts for men (not down to the knee) and shoulder straps to above knee and open back with no zipper is what is being called for to rid the sport of any further darkness on the issue of suits. FINA should deliver that to the sport it governs and it should do it now.
The bull's blood is pouring into the waters of the Foro Italico here. Slay the beast.