A seventh-place finish in the women’s 1,000 meters by Heather Richardson, shown after the 500, is the best showing by the U.S. team so far in Sochi. (Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

UPDATED at 2:20 p.m.

Under Armour responded Friday to a Wall Street Journal report that its design is slowing down U.S. speedskaters at the Sochi Olympics.

The report cited three people familiar with the U.S. team who said that vents on the back of the suits allowed air to enter and create drag.

Kevin Plank, the founder and chief executive of the Maryland-based company, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television, “There’s a bit of a head scratcher where the team isn’t performing as well as any of us hoped to,” and adding that the questions are “all very fair.”

Kevin Haley, senior vice president for innovation for UnderArmour, addressed the criticism in an interview with Bloomberg News:

“The organization is reaching the conclusion it’s not the suits,” Haley said. “The bottom line is there are multiple variables that go into the final result, and because these are great athletes who have given everything they have to train for this event for the last four years, everyone is searching for answers to the the question of why haven’t these athletes stepped up on the podium.”

Under Armour removed the ventilation panels for all four women before the 1000-meter race and didn’t see any difference in times, Haley said. One competitor in the men’s 1,000 wore another suit that had a vent but didn’t have the body flow- molded polyurethane shapes and also didn’t see a difference in results. The “vast majority” of adjustments to the suits have been for comfort, Haley said.

The United States has won 29 gold medals and 67 overall in Olympic speedskating, but did not have a finish of better than seventh place through six of 12 events in Sochi.

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