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Bernard's record has Aussie coach crying foul

FRENCHMAN Alain Bernard's 100 meters freestyle world record has been called into question by Australia's coach, who believes the Olympic champion set the time in an illegal suit.

Wearing a prototype suit pending approval from authorities, Bernard became the first man to break the 47-second barrier in the semifinals of the French championships on Friday. The Frenchman's 46.94-second dash smashed the previous record set by Australian Eamon Sullivan at the Beijing Games last year.

"I think it would set a dangerous precedent if this was approved and everyone will be watching it," Alan Thompson told The Australian newspaper. "It's a bit like the situation when Libby (Trickett) broke the world record racing Michael Phelps and her record was not ratified.

"That was not an approved event and this is not an approved suit."

New performance-boosting bodysuits covered with polyurethane to aid buoyancy triggered a row at the French championships, with some coaches and swimmers decrying them as unfair.

After the record-breaking swim, Bernard was soundly beaten by Frederick Bousquet by 0.36 seconds in the final, after eschewing the unapproved suit for an older one.

Bernard said the slower swim, more than half a second shy of his semifinal result, was due to nerves and a problem with his goggles.

The new suit, produced by Bernard's sponsor Arena, had been sent to FINA for ratification before a deadline last month.

Sullivan's coach Grant Stoelwinder said the contrasting results proved technology had played a big part.

"You might expect (Bernard) to tighten up a little bit in a final and go a couple of tenths slower, but half a second is quite significant," Stoelwinder told the paper.


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