Phelps' Ties to Timekeeper Raise Doubts

Sponsor Omega won't release images of race No. 7 finish
By Rebecca Smith Hurd,  Newser User
Posted Aug 20, 2008 5:23 PM CDT

(Newser) – Michael Phelps' razor-thin victory in his seventh race is raising sticky ethical questions because the Olympics' official timekeeper is also one of Phelps' sponsors, the New York Times reports. Making matters worse, the timekeeper, Omega, and swimming's governing body won't break with protocol and release underwater images of the finish. They insist there's "absolutely no doubt" Phelps won and note that Serbia dropped its protest after seeing the images.

“This issue may end up being very damaging to Phelps, Omega and the USA," said a sports ethicist. "Sadly, it could have been avoided with careful thought and basic ethical advice.” Omega probably doesn't want to set a precedent of having to release images of every close finish, but many say it should do just that. "It gets rid of all doubts and the conflict of interest sitting there like the elephant in the room with the corporate sponsor," said one sports historian.