Nike’s Vaporfly is Legal

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I don’t think there has ever been a shoe that has caused so much turmoil based on legality than Nike’s Vaporfly. These shoes are extremely popular, not necessarily because of comfort, but because of their performance enhancement capabilities. Known for saving runners an average of 4% efficiency no matter the discipline these shoes are used, Nike Vaporflys are being used by just about every pro running road races. Like usual, Nike is dominating the running scene. It is not new for all pro racers to have Nike shoes on their feet, but these ones are now being deemed too advantageous. In something known as “mechanical doping,” critics of the Vaporfly are saying that these shoes, featuring a carbon fiber plate for the bounciness, are simply too advantageous to be used without compromising the integrity of the sport. For this reason, World Athletics (IAAF) launched an investigation on the shoes, determining if they had a place in running. What was concluded was that the regular Nike Vapor Flys were legal, but Nike’s alpha fly, the shoe used by Eliud Kipchoge during his 1 hour and 59-minute marathon, was illegal. The Alpha Fly’s had “three carbon plates and a sole thicker than 40mm” rendering them too much of an advantage. 

If there is one thing IAAF has been wasting their time on, it is this investigation of mechanical doping. Dozens and dozens of athletes are using performance enhancement drugs, and athletic boards in Kenya, Nigeria, Jamaica (etc.) simply do not offer the service of drug tests to ensure that athletes qualifying for professional events are doing so legally. This is what the IAAF needs to focus its efforts on, not over a slight advantage a shoe may provide. Doping has always been a relevant problem in the sport, perhaps because of the IAAF’s failure to concentrate efforts.