Michael Weiss Finger Tape “Necessary for Injury” by Referee

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.

USA Swimming is appreciative of the referee’s thoughtful consideration of the situation.

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.


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5 years ago

If taping one’s fingers together doesn’t create a competitive advantage, then why is it against the rules? Clearly Michael injured his hand and there are provisions to allow the tape but doesn’t the referee need to be aware before the swimmer competes? The referee would have been part of the initial discussions that lead to the dq. Clearly any advantage the taping would provide did not account for the considerable distance between the Americans and Canadians. However this looks really bad and is unfortunate for all the swimmers from the 2nd – 4th place teams.

Reply to  swimdad22
5 years ago

I believe the “no taping” rule came in as a reaction to all of the talk about compression during the super suit era. It was thought that taping of muscles could provide some of the same benefits and thus outlawed. I do not think that the taping of fingers had ever been really considered as an advantage. Most top swimmers actually have their fingers spread slightly. Nor was the rule put in, I believe, to keep injured swimmers from being able to swim.

Reply to  Mike
5 years ago

The rule far precedes the super suit era. The tape does give an advantage, albeit a small one, as it provides additional surface area for pulling, like extremely mini hand paddles might. What if he had taped 3 fingers together? Because the fingers were taped as the result of an injury, as said above, he should have sought approval from the FINA Sports Medicine Committee prior to the swim.

bobo gigi
5 years ago

That story is gonna soon make the front page of the New York Times.

That’s a milestone in sport history.

Peter davis
Reply to  bobo gigi
5 years ago

“Hands Taped Don’t Swim!”

5 years ago

The DQ should have been upheld! The rules clearly states no tape unless approved. No where in that statement does it state that tape is allowed if no competitive advantage is gained. What is the purpose of officials unless they are going to enforce the rules.

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Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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