By Lisa Dillman
August 1, 2009
Reintroducing the battle between Michael Phelps and Milorad Cavic in the men's 100-meter butterfly at the world championships: the sequel.
The suits: Cavic, wearing the high-tech bodysuit, the polyurethane Arena X-Glide, offered to buy Phelps one, saying: "If Michael wants an Arena, he just has to say. If he wants a Jaked, they don't want to give it to him for free, I'll buy it for him."
Phelps will stick with his "old-school" Speedo LZR Racer.
"I'm wearing this," he said. "If he wants to wear a different suit, he can throw this one on."
For the record, Phelps was saying this after Cavic took away his world record Friday in the semifinals of the 100 fly, going 50.01 seconds. Phelps (50.48) didn't offer to pay for Cavic's Speedo.
The lies: Cavic, a Serb who went by the first name Mike as he was raised in Orange County, Calif., is now living and training in Italy. The move to Europe hasn't cut into his candor quotient about Phelps and the suits.
"I think in the media, it's been portrayed he has no options," Cavic said of Phelps' suit choices. "He has some. It's a complete lie. I know he's making a lot of money from Speedo. But you know what, throughout my career I've learned this:
"Free will is a gift with a price tag and whatever you choose to do, you're going to pay."
The videotape: In Beijing, Cavic was out-touched by Phelps' final lunge of faith in the 100 fly, losing by one-hundredth of a second. Not only was it the seventh gold medal of Phelps' eventual eight, but it represented the defining moment of the Games.
Cavic, meanwhile, has been making like a conspiracy theorist - like an Oliver Stone breaking down the tape frame by frame. Almost a year later, he is insisting that he really did win the race, blaming the Omega timing pad system, still claiming in Rome that he did, indeed, touch first in China. (Look out for the grassy knoll at the Foro Italico on Saturday night.)
In lowering Phelps' world record, of 50.22, which was set on July 9 at nationals in Indianapolis, Cavic went out with his typical explosive start, going 22.83 in the opening 50 meters.
"He was out quick," Phelps said. "I know tomorrow that if I want to be in that race, that first 50 is going to have to be a lot closer than a second behind."
Phelps was part of one world-record effort in the 800-freestyle relay, which the U.S. won in 6:58.55. The other members of the relay were Ricky Berens, David Walters and Ryan Lochte.
The lead-off leg featured Phelps against Paul Biedermann of Germany. And Biedermann, like he did in the 200 freestyle final, easily beat Phelps again, 1:42.81 to 1:44.49.
"I actually had it in my mind, 'If you beat him one time you can beat him again,'" Biedermann said. "And it really motivated me."
Still, Biedermann vs. Phelps was overshadowed by the talk of today's showdown between Cavic and Phelps in the final.
The rivalry between Phelps and Cavic came against the backdrop of another tumultuous day in Rome, in and out of the pool. FINA, the sport's international governing body, announced its ban on the controversial bodysuits would take effect Jan. 1.
All the while, world records tumbled with numbing regularity. Six more fell, bringing the total to 35.
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