Basically, I think there are two historical cases in play: The Pistorius advantage, which draws a direct line to this, and the Speedo LZR Racer swimsuit and subsequent suits, which illustrate a couple of conceptual issues. That means the carbon fiber plate, or plastic etc but not necessarily the gels/air patches that offer cushioning, and not the foam, either.
To sum my position up, I think the addition of any device that purports to act as a spring (and the Vaporfly Elite clearly has this) should be banned for the credibility of performances both now and into the future. Since Kram raised it on Twitter, I also don’t think that orthotics meet that standard to be banned.
The article written by a patent lawyer that I linked to yesterday made abundantly clear that a patent application dating back last year was for a ‘spring’ – Nike were specific about what they were applying for then.
The first clue was in the name – they called it, literally, a “spring plate”.
That takes us back to Oscar Pistorius, who gives us a conceptual illustration of the problem – the technology that allowed him to run 45.3s in 2012 was viewed as “fine, tolerable”, because: a) the research couldn’t cleanly provide an answer to the question “Is this a nett advantage?
”, and b) let’s face reality, he wasn’t “too fast”.
Now, I’m told that this version of the shoe has a different carbon fiber plate in it, and that it is not curved for its spring-properties.
Instead, it is designed to unload the calves in the face of increased stiffness from the plate.
Whether this carbon fiber plate is functionally different to that applied for in the patent, one has to take at face value for now.Here are my (amended) thoughts in response to the email discussion Question on your shoe take: nearly every top end track spike has carbon fiber or some similar element to stiffen the shoe and has for some time. I’m talking specifically about a device that is there to ‘spring’ by offering elastic recoil, and that’s what a carbon fiber plate is doing when it’s curved in the way that this particular one is.There’s been some semantic ‘tap-dancing’ around this from Nike and a few journalists carrying that message, but I’ve no doubt this was intended to work like a spring.Then you’d be scrambling to ban the technology, and it would very obviously be because he was too fast, and that’s all kinds of discriminatory.So in my opinion, if you can’t eliminate this as a possible future outcome because the magnitude of the advantage can’t be quantified with precision, then I think the technology should be banned presently.In other words, at what point would that device become “too effective” as a spring?