One half of the ongoing Michael-Weiss taped-finger relay-disqualification saga at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto was resolved late last night, when the American silver-medal 800 free relay was reinstated after appeal.
Another piece was clarified when Weiss swam the prelims of the 400 IM with his fingers still taped, and had no interference from the officials.
There was still some mystery remaining as to what grounds by which the appeal was successful, when FINA SW rule 10.8 states that tape is not allowed without approval from the FINA Sports Medicine Committee.
SW 10.8 No swimmer shall be permitted to use or wear any device or swimsuit that may aid his/her speed, buoyancy or endurance during a competition (such as webbed gloves, flippers, fins, power bands, or adhesive substances, etc.). Goggles may be worn. Any kind of tape on the body is not permitted unless approved by FINA Sport Medicine Committee.
USA Swimming attempted to shed some light on the confusion with the release of a statement, confirming the injury, and describing the nature of the appeal. Specifically, USA Swimming says that they appealed to the meet referee on the basis that “the treatment was necessary for injury” and that “Weiss gained no competitive advantage as a result of his taping.”
U. S. swimmer Michael Weiss injured his middle finger of his left hand on the finish of the 200-meter freestyle Wednesday evening and had his fingers taped for treatment prior to the 800m free relay. The relay was disqualified in violation of FINA rule 10.8, which states that no tape may be placed on the body.
The U.S. protested the disqualification on the grounds that treatment was necessary for the injury, and Weiss gained no competitive advantage as a result of his taping. The decision to disqualify the U.S. men’s 800m free relay was overturned by the referee of the event, and the official results have been updated on toronto2015.org, reflecting a second-place finish for Team USA. The medal ceremony is scheduled to take place prior to Thursday’s finals session.
While that answers the question as to why the appeal was approved and by whom, it’s still not clear where the referee earned the authority to make the decision. Under the “referee” section of FINA’s rule book, the referee is the proper arbiter of appeals at a meet, however, it only gives him the authority to decide questions when “the final settlement” is “not otherwise covered by the rules.” In rule 10.8, the final settlement of the taping rules is otherwise covered.
SW 2.1.1 The referee shall have full control and authority over all officials, approve their assignments, and instruct them regarding all special features or regulations related to the competitions. He shall enforce all rules and decisions of FINA and shall decide all questions relating to the actual conduct of the meet, and event or the competition, the final settlement of which is not otherwise covered by the rules.
USA Swimming did not immediately respond to a request for comment on which rule gives the referee the authority to approve tape.