SCOTT SIMON, host:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Put on your goggles and your flippers, time now for sports.
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SIMON: Another weekend, another world record for Michael Phelps. He did it again today at the World Swimming Championships in Rome to retain his 100-meter butterfly world title with a new world record of 49.82 seconds in the 100-meter men's butterfly. But of course all kinds of world records have been falling at the swimming championships in Rome. Is it the suits? NPR's Tom Goldman joins us. Tom, thanks for being with us.
TOM GOLDMAN: My pleasure, Scott.
SIMON: And is it the suits?
GOLDMAN: It sure is.
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GOLDMAN: You know, especially this Arena X-Glide. That's been the fastest suit this year and certainly at the championships in Rome. The technology of these suits is way beyond last year's suit of the moment, which was the LZR Racer by Speedo, worn by Michael Phelps.
The X-Glide is 100 percent polyurethane. I know you favor that in your wardrobe.
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SIMON: Wear it every day to get here, yeah.
GOLDMAN: Right. It reduces drag and increases buoyancy to such an extent that its users are almost stunned. Now, Paul Biedermann, the German swimmer who wore the Arena X-Glide when he shocked Phelps earlier this week by beating Phelps in the 200-meter freestyle in Rome and breaking Phelps' world record, he said: I think the suits are destroying the sport a little bit.
There have been more than 30 world records falling in Rome - an astounding number. The suits are going to be banned starting next January 1st, but a lot of the world records could stand for a long time, and many wonder, you know, how valid are they going to be.
SIMON: And let me ask you about what amounts to this grudge match today between Michael Phelps and Milorad Cavic. Well, I mean, I hate to judge these things from the outside, and who can say what's in a man's heart, but they don't seem to like each other.
GOLDMAN: Well, they sure don't, and that's why I would consider today's win by Phelps one of the biggest of his storied career. The back story, of course, is that of the eight gold medals Phelps won in Beijing, none was closer or more controversial than the 100-meter butterfly. That's where he won, if you remember, by a fingernail over Cavic.
Cavic still insists he won that race, despite photographic evidence to the contrary. He says he touched first but just not hard enough to stop the timer. Cavic was out for revenge in Rome in this event. He broke Phelps' world record in the semi-finals, but as you just told everyone, Phelps got him back.
SIMON: And I do want to ask about this, Tom, because they're in Rome, and there was a group of swimmers from - of all nationalities and several different teams who met with Pope Benedict today, and Michael Phelps didn't go along for that meeting because he said he needed to rest for his race.
Now, I guess it's hard to argue with results, but I kind of wonder: If you had one of the biggest races of your life ahead, would you miss out on a chance to get a blessing from the holy father?
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GOLDMAN: Scott, you know, that's such a hot-button issue, I'm not going to really answer. All I will say is that it does seem that rest won out today.
SIMON: Look, a very sad story in baseball this week. New York Times reports that David Ortiz, as well as Manny Ramirez, were two of the 104 players who tested positive for steroid use in 2003. Now, of course, no surprise about Manny Ramirez, who's already had a 50-game suspension for it, but ooh, the Ortiz revelation. That hurts a lot of people.
GOLDMAN: Well, Scott, I think the description of sad is very apt and certainly for the people, the Red Sox nation out there who love the Boston Red Sox. You know, Ortiz and Ramirez were mainstays on that memorable 2004 Red Sox team that won the World Series and broke that 86-year championship drought. You know, Ortiz is beloved in Boston. He spoke out quite strongly against doping just this year, and he said this week that he would find out what he tested positive for and share it with the public. We're still waiting.
The report doesn't seem to have fazed Ortiz on the field. He's had two homeruns in two games since the report came out. But Scott, you know, this is just another of those cuts that are slowly bleeding out many of the great moments in Major League Baseball over the past decade or so.
SIMON: NPR's Tom Goldman, thanks so much.
GOLDMAN: You're welcome.
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