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Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Ski official: Rules needed on underwear

Associated Press

KITZBUEHEL, Austria -- The president of the International Ski Federation has called for a rule change to clarify what athletes are allowed to wear under their race suits, following a dispute over Tina Maze's controversial underwear.

"We have to change our rules," Gian Franco Kasper said Tuesday. "It has to be made very clear -- if (underwear) is plastified, it is forbidden."

Maze's one-piece long underwear sparked a debate after the Swiss ski federation staged a protest against the Slovenian racer's garment following her second-place finish at a World Cup super-G race in Bad Kleinkirchheim, Austria, on Jan 8.

The FIS confiscated Maze's underwear, but later said the garment had passed permeability tests. Still, the FIS recommended racers not to wear it as it might contain plastic parts which could prevent the body from breathing.

Banning such clothing "is a question of health protection for the athletes," said Kasper, who believed the current rules leave too much room for interpretation.

"It's really open because the air permeability is there but there are some parts that might be a little plastified," the FIS president said.

The Swiss protested by stating that the plastic level in the garment exceeded FIS rules and gave Maze an aerodynamic edge.

"For us, it's quite clear," Kasper said. "If it's real plastification of the underwear -- not in the case of Maze but from now on -- we will immediately disqualify without any question."

Kasper criticized the vagueness of the statement the FIS released on the issue last weekend.

"The communication was not the best by saying it isn't forbidden but don't use it," he said.

The debate focused entirely on Maze, but according to Kasper, "apparently there are four teams that have the same underwear."

Maze expressed her feelings about the issue last Sunday after placing third in a super-G in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. In front of TV cameras, she peeled off the top of her ski suit to show her sports bra, which had written on it: "Not your business."

Kasper said he was not very impressed by the whole underwear discussion.

"I think, it's a kindergarten, nothing else, and I was surprised that this protest came up," he said.