Olympic Skier Under Scrutiny for ‘Performance-Enhancing Underwear’

Can undergarments create an unfair advantage? Some skiing officials say yes.

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Leonhard Foeger / Reuters

Slovenia's Tina Maze poses on the podium after the women's World Cup super G race in Bad Kleinkirchheim, Austria, January 8, 2012.

Slovenian skier Tina Maze caused controversy over the type of underwear she wore after placing second at a race in Austria, the New York Times reports.

Maze came under fire from the Swiss ski federation, who launched its own “underweargate” against the racer. After confiscating and testing the contentious clothing, officials ruled the one-piece garment was permitted, but recommended female skiers not wear the underwear due to health concerns.

The testing revealed that the full-body stocking contained plastic, which may prevent the body from breathing. Some suspect the plastic components gave the Slovenian an aerodynamic advantage, shaving off seconds from her time.

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“It’s like doping,” Swiss skier Didier Cuche told the Times. “If you don’t follow the rules, then that’s bad. It’s bad for the sport.”

Though officials ruled in favor of Maze, the underwear incited debate among both the female and male professional ski world. The president of the International Ski Federation, Gian Franco Kasper, is calling for a complete rule change to specify what types of undergarments are permissible, ESPN reports.

“We have to change our rules,” Kasper said. “It has to be made very clear — if (underwear) is plastified, it is forbidden.”

Meanwhile Maze is puzzled over the ruling, she told reporters at a race in Cortina, Italy Sunday. “I really don’t understand now if I can use it or not,” she said.

After the race, Maze further provoked the issue in a Brandi Chastain moment when she stripped down to reveal a sports bra with a provocative message for all those concerned with her underwear: “Not Your Business.”

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