World Athletics to allow 'development shoes' if they meet technical specifications
Athletes will be allowed to wear shoes still under development in future competitions as long as the specifications are approved. The new regulations mark a rule change from the sports' governing body. The issue had been brought under the spotlight in 2019 after Eliud Kipchoge's sub two-hour marathon in Vienna.
Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge (white jersey) celebrates after busting the mythical two-hour barrier for the marathon on October 12 2019 in Vienna
A debate over runners' shoes has been raging since high-tech footwear developed by Nike played a starring role in two of the biggest distance-running achievements of 2019.
Athletes will be allowed to wear shoes still under development in international competitions and events where World Athletics rules apply, upon approval of the shoes' specifications, after a rule change by the sport's governing body.
Eliud Kipchoge's sub-two-hour marathon in Vienna and Brigid Kosgei's record-breaking run at the Chicago Marathon brought Nike's Vaporfly shoes into the spotlight, sparking debate over whether the advanced footwear gave runners an unfair advantage.
World Athletics banned the shoes from professional sport earlier this year, following which Nike launched a new version of its Alphafly shoe that complies with new rules introduced by the governing body.
Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge (white jersey) runs during his attempt to bust the mythical two-hour barrier for the marathon on October 12 2019 in Vienna. - Kipchoge holds the men's world record for the distance with a time of 2hr 01min 39sec, which he set in the
Image credit: Getty Images
Manufacturers use development shoes to conduct tests with sponsored athletes before making them available in the market.
World Athletics CEO Jon Ridgeon welcomed the amendment, insisting it would not affect the competition's integrity.
"The use of competition to complete the final testing of development shoes by manufacturers has always been an important part of the shoe development process," Ridgeon said.
"With shoe manufacturers agreeing to our new process of submitting specifications and shoes, if required, for approval ahead of being worn in competition, we are confident that this amendment will not impact the integrity of competition."
Prototypes can be worn for a period of 12 months, after which they no longer qualify as development shoes and can no longer be used in competitions. (Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson)