British newspaper Times he reported Wednesday that World Athletics will likely ban shoes and introduce a rule to limit the depth of a shoe’s midsole.
De Castella, 62, who still holds the ocean marathon record, said shoes should be banned to avoid a “deluge” of technological advancements that could threaten the “simplicity and beauty” of the race.
“The concept of running with the springs on your feet is simply ridiculous – it absolutely must be addressed,” he said. “I’m not about technology where it provides an unfair or unnatural advantage.”
A recent study in The New York Times he found that over 40% of the marathons completed in less than three hours last year were from runners wearing a version of the shoes, the Vaporfly 4% or Next%.
De Castella said that when he set the Oceania record in 1986, running at the Boston Marathon in just two hours and seven minutes, the technological advancements at the time were only about making the shoes lighter.
“Road running shoes have evolved drastically, but it never went so far that there was an artificial improvement in performance,” he said.
Olympic gold medalist Libby Trickett said that the controversy recalls the 2009 swimsuit debate, which saw the entire suit used by the great Olympian Ian Thorpe, banned from the sports governing body, be banned.
“Going back to 2009 with the super suits, it was very clearly an improvement in performance,” he said. “The reason they frustrated me is that not everyone has had access to those particular cases, and I think that’s where many of the problems come from.”
The shoes raised particular concerns with athletes and competing brands not sponsored by Nike.
“I think that’s where it gets pretty complicated,” said Trickett. “Unless the sport as a whole embraces it, it cannot be corrected. What an athlete wears should be only 1% of his abilities.”
Former indoor sprint world champion Melinda Gainsford-Taylor agreed that the shoes offered an unfair advantage.
“Everyone wants to improve and be the best these days,” he said. “I don’t think it should be part of this sport … it depends on human abilities if you want to be the best, it’s about how hard you can work.”
Sarah is a reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.