Eliud Kipchoge, a Kenyan runner, became the first to complete a marathon in less than two hours last year. The achievement, though not an official world record, led to criticisms of Kipchoge’s shoes, which are an advanced Nike Vaporfly design. This was a further indication that the Vaporfly design was transforming the trainer into an unjust form of performance enhancement.
In a recent decision by World Athletics, running’s governing body has banned Kipchoge from competing in his Vaporflys. Other versions of the shoes are still legal, however. New rules set a maximum sole thickness, and limit the number of carbon plates inside that can use to manage runners energy. Any new shoe design must be available for purchase within four months to be eligible to compete.
These amendments can be argue to be a balance and pragmatic approach, which addresses some of new technology’s problems for competitive sport. All world records in running will be preserve, but there is a clearer line to follow before footwear design moves forward.
This outcome can still be critic, as Nike’s rivals have until spring to react to the Vaporfly design. Otherwise their shoes won’t be legal for the Tokyo Olympic & Paralympic Games. It will still likely impact the sport at both amateur and professional levels.
Competitive Advantage For World Runners
The Vaporfly’s technology can be a competitive advantage for runners, as we know. In 2017, a study showed that these shoes are 4% more efficient than many of their rivals. However, any new technology in sports should not limit the accessibility and fairness of the sport. In 2015, a review suggested that the use of sports technology may be inappropriate if it is not available, affordable, or safe to use.
Similar issues have been encountered in other sports. The world of athletics was divided in 2009 over whether Paralympian Oscar Pistorius should (and could) compete against able-bodied athletes. It was argued that his prostheses would enhance performance. He eventually participated in the 2012 Olympic Games.
Similar to the case of Kipchoge’s Vaporflys, full-body and specially textured swimming suits quickly rewrote swimming’s world records. Their adoption was challenge and ultimately outlawed. Like Kipchoge’s Vaporflys, athletes who couldn’t obtain the swimsuits were at a competitive disadvantage if their sponsorships or endorsements included brands that didn’t make the equipment.
There are also other concerns. Other concerns include the fear of being left behind and athletes may feel force to use new technology, regardless of whether it is best for them. The same goes for a sport that allows new technology to use. Because it was easier to control the ball and create spin, the spaghetti stringing, a unique string pattern found on tennis rackets was eventually ban.
Impact On Amateurs
These ethical issues must be consider when creating competitive rules. They should also be incorporate with scientific measurements in order to create the strongest regulations. While this debate is usually about elite athletes, Nike’s Vaporflys may also have a profound impact on what recreational runners can achieve.
Running shoes have been subject to functional limitations for major competitions. However, these rules won’t apply to amateurs who race or run for fun. If elites are not allow to use the same shoes. It is possible for the gap between professional and amateur runners to narrow.
In this hypothetical scenario, a recreational jogger. Who has had their lower limbs amputated could still use a bionic limb to run. Under current International Paralympic Committee rules, a Paralympian cannot use more than a single spring to race.
The Vaporfly’s proposed benefits will not make recreational donkeys racehorses. It is possible for elite athletes to suddenly lose their competitive edge. If they aren’t able to keep up with Nike’s innovation. Running has gone from being a footrace into an arms race, regardless of what the World Athletics decision is.