Sports Law • Risk Management

Shaving Before Swimming = Disqualification

Most all swimmers will shave their body hair prior to diving into the water to reduce drag and improve the athlete’s speed. But, on February 22, 2012, Yahoo wrote about one particular athlete who was retroactively disqualified from all her swimming events for shaving. When it was discovered that the high school swimmer shaved her body hair at the swimming facility before getting into the pool, she was stripped of her points, which, cost her team the county championships. It turns out that shaving on the premises of the meet is a rule violation.

While the result seems harsh, the purpose of the rule is well intended. The purpose of the rule is to minimize practices like razor sharing amongst teammates that might cause the transmission of blood. The exchange of blood is risky if one of the athletes carries a blood-borne pathogen. However, transmitting blood diseases is not the only problem that can arise from the sharing of razors. Community-Associated Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) is a staph skin infection that can be spread through the sharing of personal hygiene items, like razors. An infected person who shares personal hygiene items, such as towels and other equipment, can spread MRSA to his or her teammates.

Thus, it is a good policy in every sport to encourage all shaving of body hair to be done at home. Furthermore, athletes should be discouraged from sharing razors, towels or other personal hygiene products. MRSA is commonly spread in locker rooms and the risk of infection should be taken seriously. For more information on how to protect against the spread of MRSA and other risk management tips for your organization, check back for comprehensive tips, which will soon be available on the Nohr Sports website.