Nike Vaporfly: IAAF report on competitive fairness not expected until 2020

Controversial sneaker linked to record-setting performances

An investigation into whether the controversial Nike Vaporfly sneaker provides an unfair advantage to long-distance runners during competition has yet to conclude and is not expected to yield results until 2020, an official said on Tuesday.

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The International Association of Athletics Federation, or IAAF, launched a probe into the Vaporfly’s impact on competition in October after multiple athletes broke records while wearing the sneaker. The international organizing body said at the time that the “working group” assigned to investigate the performance-enhancing aspects of the shoe was expected to report back with its findings by the end of the year.

The working group, which includes former athletes and experts across sports science, ethics and biomechanics, had yet to report back as of this week. If they do report back before the end of the year, their findings are unlikely to result in an immediate announcement.

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“We will need to absorb their report and work out the way forward,” an IAAF spokeswoman told FOX Business. “I don’t anticipate there being any news before our office closes for Christmas. Any announcement is likely to be in the New Year.”

Eliud Kipchoge, the 2016 Olympic gold medalist in the marathon event and men’s world record holder, was wearing a version of the Nike Vaporfly when he became the first person ever to run the 26.2-mile race in under two hours at an unofficial event in Vienna last October. Within days, Brigid Kosgie set a new women’s world record while wearing the sneaker during the Chicago Marathon.

While sneakers worn by top athletes are often prototype versions, a base model of the Vaporfly is available for $250 on Nike’s website. The Vaporfly features an ultra-light foam and spring-like carbon fiber plate that are said to boost a runner’s pace while lowering the amount of energy required for the act of running.

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Nike has yet to publicly comment on concerns related to the Vaporfly’s impact.

Under the IAAF’s current rules, running sneakers are legal so long as they are “reasonably available” for use by all competitors and do not provide “any unfair assistance or advantage.” At present, it’s unclear if the organization would consider banning the shoe from competition.

In its initial statement on the probe, the IAAF did not mention the Vaporfly by name but acknowledged the growing impact of technology on international sport.

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“The challenge for the IAAF is to find the right balance in the technical rules between encouraging the development and use of new technologies in athletics and the preservation of the fundamental characteristics of the sport: accessibility, universality and fairness,” the IAAF said.

The 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, begin in July.