Ugandan long distance star Joshua Cheptegei has dismissed talk that his ability and that of other elites to break world records is down to new running shoes that some say are the equivalent of mechanical doping.
Both Cheptegei and versatile Dutch runner Hassan wear Nike ZoomX Dragonfly track spikes, a super-light shoe with a rigid plate and a unique foam that lends a propulsive sensation to every stride.
Critics claim the shoes are the equivalent of mechanical doping, while supporters hail them as a revolutionary technical advance.
With athletes also aided by trackside pace-setting lighting, a slew of middle-distance records has fallen and many more look set to follow. Maestro Cheptegei set world records in the men’s 5,000m in Monaco, 10,000m in Valencia and 5km road, also in Monaco, last season.
He said innovative track spikes were “available not just for me or Sifan” but for everyday runners wishing to improve.
“I believe technology is changing the world,” said the Ugandan, who won 10,000m world gold in Doha in 2019.
“We’re not living in the 1990s, we have to accept the new innovations from the new companies, the technologies, we have to go and live, it’s about the comfort that allows you to reach your dreams.”
Ethiopian-born Dutch middle and long distance runner Sifan set the 10,000m World Record last week but it lasted only two days.
Letesenbet Gidey broke it on the same track in the Netherlands. The Ethiopian set a new record of 29 minutes, 1.03 seconds at the Ethiopian Olympic trials, which were held in Hengelo.
“I don’t know why they get crazy about technology,” Hassan said ahead of yesterday’s Diamond League meet in the Italian city of Florence.
“All of us have new phones, before no one had telephones, so we have to go back to the radio to listen?”
Hassan, who moved to the Netherlands from Ethiopia at the age of 15 in 2008, added: “We don’t have to have the track, so we have to take it up and run on dust or something!
“What’s wrong with you people, just move on. We’re a new generation, chill out, don’t just complain, just be positive, everybody, have fun.”