Australian Olympic swimmer Stephanie Rice has been criticized for posing in a bikini deemed “too revealing” – but has started a copycat craze of people wearing the outfit.
Triple gold medalist Stephanie Rice posted the picture of her in a two-piece designer swimsuit on Twitter earlier this week.
The bikini – known as the “tomb raider” – had been given to her as a birthday present from the designer Ellie Gonsalves.
But critics blasted for the sports star for showing off in the costume which some claimed was “too sexy”.
One fan tweeted: “Stephanie Rice posting a photo of herself in swimwear has brought disgrace to the Australian swim team and she should be dropped.”
Despite the public backlash, Stephanie Rice left the photo on her Instagram page.
There were also claims that by posing in the swimsuit she could have breached a sponsorship contract with Speedo.
However, her management denied that she had broken any rules.
A spokesman said: “No, Stephanie isn’t an ambassador for Ellie Gonsalves, she just loves their stuff.
“She doesn’t have any relationship with Speedo anymore so there are no restrictions there.”
Despite some criticism, the picture sparked a string of spoofs with men posting pictures of themselves in the same costume. Many of them were supporting the swimmer.
Radio presenter Ryan Fitzgerald contacted the makers of the bikini and was sent one to wear. He put the picture online of him and friend Michael Wipfli wearing the swimsuit.
The outfit’s designer Ellie Gonsalves also posted a picture of herself in the costume to show support for her athlete friend.
Ellie Gonsalves label director Vanessa Bryce said that sales of the bikini have soared since Stephanie Rice’s picture was made public.
“We’ve had inquires from all over – the US, Singapore. We’ve sold an extra 60 since the photo ran and sales of other swimwear has also gone up,” she told the Herald Sun.
“Yes, we are preparing a special package of things to send (Rice) after the Olympics to say thank you,” she added.
The controversy is the latest to hit the swimmer, who won three golds at Beijing in 2008 and is the world record holder for the women’s 400m individual medley.
In 2008, Stephanie Rice sparked outrage when a picture of her posing in a skin-tight police costume appeared on her Facebook page.
And in September 2010 she was slammned she wrote “suck on that faggots” after Australia beat South Africa in a Rugby Union match.
Stephanie Rice was criticized for the comments and made a tearful public apology.
The latest outrage comes just days after two of Australia’s male swimmers posed with guns for a picture that was posted on Facebook.
The image, taken in a gun shop in Santa Clara, California, showed Nick D’Arcy with two pistols standing next to Kenrick Monk who is holding two shotguns across his chest.
The photo was removed after condemnation from Swimming Australia. A spokesman said: “Swimming Australia does not condone the posting of inappropriate content on Facebook, Twitter or any social media platform.”