IAAF opens investigation into Nike Zoom X VaporFly

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The International Athletics Federation will try to determine if Nike's Vapor Fly shoes offer a technological advantage that goes against the settlement. The IAAF opened the investigation on 17 October following complaints from multiple international riders.

"When a shoe contains multiple layers of carbon in its sole, it's no longer a running shoe, it's a spring! In my opinion it gives Vapor Fly owners an unfair advantage over other runners" stated Ryan Hall US recordman of the half marathon, about the 1:59 Ineos who saw Eliud Kipchoge run the marathon in less than 2 hours. Note that Kipchoge used during this event a test shoe that has not yet been marketed. Ryan Hall adds "I hope that the IAAF will ensure that in future international competitions, all athletes fight on equal terms regardless of their sponsor. "

At the top the last shoe marketed Vapor Fly range. At the bottom, the prototype used by Kipchoge during the Ineos Challenge.
Top the last shoe marketed Vapor Fly range. At the bottom, the prototype used by Kipchoge during the Ineos Challenge.

The American runner is not the first to challenge the IAAF. The British newspaper The Times reveals that several pro riders had entered the International Athletics Federation several months ago. The controversy is indeed not new. Several independent studies seem to confirm that the energy gain obtained with these shoes would be real as we explained in this article. As a reminder, the inaugural model of the VaporFly range inaugurated in 2016 was the first shoe to use a carbon plate.

The latest model marketed in the range in April, the Zoom X VaporFly has had many innovations. Nike added a more breathable mesh, reinforced cushioning with a more protective foam at the sole and heel. This shoe has indeed seen impressive performances. Kenyan Brigid Kosgei exploded 1min21 the historic record of the women's marathon with these shoes at the Chicago Marathon on October 13th. In the men's event, three athletes managed to descend under the previous world record (2:02:57) dating from 2014 during official competitions with the VaporFly. Like the 2 Ethiopians Legese and Bekele who had delivered an anthology race at Berlin Marathon end of September.

Carbon to the onslaught of running

The subject of technological doping is likely to occupy an increasingly important place in the months to come. Nike's competitors have launched shoes using similar technologies this season. Hoka had launched in May the Carbon X that we had also been able to test. More recently, New Balance has marketed its first shoe with carbon plate, the Fuel CellRebel.

This is not the first time that this kind of debate has appeared in pro sports. By the end of the 2000s, swimming had had a similar affair with the brand's polyurethane suits. Speedo.

Swimmers using polyurethane suits at the 2009 US Championships. Image Credit: By nicoleross - https://www.flickr.com/photos/nicoleross/3729896905/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https: // commons. wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7433486
Swimmers using polyurethane suits at the 2009 US Championships. Image Credit: By nicoleross – https://www.flickr.com/photos/nicoleross/3729896905/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https: // commons. wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7433486

At the European Short Course Championships 2008, 17 world records were beaten by swimmers wearing the combination LZR Racer from the British brand. The International Swimming Federation reacted by banning this kind of combination of competitions in 2010.



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