The New York TimesI've written this before in regards to laser eye surgery versus steroids, but honestly... better gear has the same effects on the veracity and integrity of sports records as steroids and HGH and anything else that comes to mind as a Great Satan.
The Speedo LZR Racer swimsuit has cannon balled into the consciousness of people who do not know a flip turn from Flipper since it was introduced in February, and swimmers wearing it have sped to 22 of the 23 world records. A coach who has worked with several Olympic gold medalists who are sponsored by Speedo describes the suit as "drugs on a hanger."
"It's exceeded our expectations," says Stu Isaac, a senior VP for sales and marketing at Speedo. Some have suggested that the corset-like fit of the LZR suit not only streamlines the body but also engages the central nervous system in ways that previous suits did not. Others say privately that this new wave of swimwear is enhancing a swimmer's buoyancy to a degree that could be considered performance-enhancing.
"I think people are feeling panicked," says Kicker Vencill, who has qualified for the trials in the 50 and 100 freestyles but does not have a swimwear sponsor. "I've heard people say they're willing to break their contracts with other companies to wear the Speedo suit."
And yes, I know, drugs are bad and addictive and have side effects and hurt children. And if they didn't, which they eventually won't because there's too much money in the pharmaceutical industry to not fix the problems? Would it be all OK then to watch the best players of that generation own the records, because life is just easier for them?
The whole thing reminds me of the fact that IQ test scores keep rising, year after year. As a species, of course, we are not getting that much smarter... but we are getting better at taking IQ tests. Athletes aren't, for the most part, getting better -- but they are getting better at breaking records.