Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge
Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge wore high-tech Nike prototype shoes during his attempt to run a marathon in under two hours in Vienna, Austria, October 12, 2019. Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: World Athletics, the international track and field’s world governing body, has framed a new set of rules effective from May this year to monitor eligibility of shoes, which can be worn during elite competitions.

Elite long distance runners have tasted major success with Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge becoming the first human to run a sub-two-hour marathon with a high-tech Nike prototype [Vaporfly] in Vienna last year. The world body has stopped short of completely banning the entire Vaporfly line while providing greater clarity to athletes and manufacturers on shoes that can be used in competition.

Effective from April 30, 2020, the new rules state that “any shoe must have been available for purchase by any athlete on the open retail market (online or in store) for a period of four months before it can be used in competition.”

The new rules further state that there will be an indefinite moratorium on any shoe, whether with or without spikes, that does not meet the following requirements:

— The sole must be no thicker than 40mm, or about 1.5 inches

— The shoe cannot contain more than one “rigid embedded plate or blade”

— Shoes with spikes can have one more plate — but only for attaching spikes to the sole

The rules on shoes were recommended by its Assistance Review Group, an internal working group containing technical, scientific and legal experts as well as athlete representatives. If a shoe is not openly available to all, then it will be deemed a prototype and its use in competitions will not be permitted.