Nike’s Vaporfly line of running shoes will not be banned following an investigation into whether the shoes provide runners with an unfair advantage in competitions.
Nevertheless, World Athletics is introducing stricter regulations for how high technology running shoes are used in professional sports.
Their ruling states that any shoe using technology developed after April 30 will now need to be out on the market for at least four months before a professional athlete is allowed to compete in it.
World Athletics has also introduced an indefinite ban on any shoes that have a sole thicker than 40mm.
Record breakers all wore shoes with new technology
Last year, 31 of the 36 athletes who placed in the top three in major marathons wore footwear with new technology, including Nike’s Vaporfly.
Last October, Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge became the first person to run a 26.2 mile marathon (42.2km) in under two hours. He was wearing a Nike prototype, the Alphafly, which will now be banned under the new regulations as they feature soles thicker than 40mm.
Fellow Kenyan Brigid Kosgei wore Nike’s Vaporfly Next% model when she beat Paula Radcliffe’s world record in the Chicago Marathon, which also took place last October.
Radcliffe’s record had stood since 2002.
Shoe technology could threaten the integrity of the sport
Some claim that Nike’s Vaporfly line provides athletes with a performance advantage and, according to World Athletics, there is sufficient evidence to raise concerns that the integrity of the sport might be threatened by the recent developments in shoe technology.
“It’s hard to know what we’re actually watching in some respects — is it the technology, or the athletes?” Kyle Barnes, a movement scientist who conducted a study into Nike’s Vaporfly shoes last year, told Business Insider. “I know you have to be an exceptional human being to come close to these achievements, but the jumps we’re seeing is the technology.”