Controversial "super shoes" worn by the two middle-distance runners who smashed world records in Valencia this week are distorting the true ability of elite athletes, according to one of the most prominent scientists working in the sport.
Yannis Pitsiladis also warned that the increasing influence of advanced technology in footwear was undermining the integrity of the sport and was not being properly addressed ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Joshua Cheptegei smashed the men’s 10,000 metres record.Credit:AFP
Cheptegei shattered the men's record by more than six seconds, while Gidey went almost five seconds under the previous best. Their performances followed Eliud Kipchoge breaking the two-hour marathon barrier wearing controversial Nike Alphafly shoes, which contain a carbon plate, in Vienna last November.
Pitsiladis, who was involved in a rival project to break the two-hour mark without the assistance of such footwear, said the help provided by them and other forms of technological advances could threaten athletics's credibility at the Tokyo Games.
He also cited the personalised air-conditioning system that Sony has produced for the Olympics, to assist with the heat in Japan, as an example of another development that could affect the performance of a competitor.
"Nike has certain patents [on the shoe] that may offer them protection but Adidas and other brands are attempting to do the same as them, and the sport of athletics is powerless to do anything as they rely on this sponsorship [from the brands involved]," he said.
"If nothing is done to rectify the situation, we must be prepared for a backlash during the Olympic Games.
"There is an urgent need to examine technology fairness.
"Sport needs to be proactive and set up an independent committee, technology integrity unit or advisory group to examine the use of such technology before it is used in elite sport – because after it enters the sport it is then impossible to withdraw."
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