‘You Don’t Need to Know’

A nice entry on The New York Times Olympics blog on the hair’s-breadth finish in the men’s 100-meter butterfly that gave U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps his seventh gold medal in Beijing. The Times and its sister publication, the International Herald Tribune, tried to get underwater footage from the official timekeeper, Omega, that reportedly gave a clear view of the finish. At first Omega said the footage would be distributed. Then FINA, the body that oversees competitive swimming, said the news media would not be allowed to view the pictures. The explanation, as related by the Times, is a pretty good working definition of arrogance:

“[FINA’S Cornel] Marculescu said it was a matter of policy, and that the Serbian team [whose swimmer finished second] was satisfied with the ruling after seeing the images — so there is no need to share the images.

“[Asked] why FINA wouldn’t distribute the footage if it showed the margin conclusively. Marculescu said: “We are not going to distribute footage. We are not doing these kinds of things. Everything is good. What are you going to do with the footage? See what the Serbians already saw? It is clarified for us beyond any doubt.

“He’s the winner in any way. He’s the winner no doubt. Even if you could see the pictures, I don’ t know how you could use them.”

[By way of Pete in the comments: Sports Illustrated has the next-best thing to the official photos–an amazing underwater sequence showing the race’s final two meters or so.0

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