Press Release06 Dec 2020


Amendment to development shoe rules in international competitions

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Runners cross Tower Bridge during the London Marathon (© AFP / Getty Images)

World Athletics has approved a change to its rules governing development (prototype) shoes following requests by all major shoe manufacturers and the industry body that represents them, the World Federation of the Sports Goods Industry (‘WFSGI’).

The amendment to the rule will allow development shoes to be worn in international competitions and competitions sanctioned by Member Federations where World Athletics rules are applied, prior to their availability to other athletes, upon approval of the shoe specifications by World Athletics. These shoes will have to meet the same technical specifications as all other approved shoes.

Development shoes can continue to be worn in any competition where World Athletics’ competition and technical rules are not applied.

The amendment, approved by World Athletics’ Council on 4 December, applies with immediate effect, to competitions sanctioned by World Athletics, Area Associations or Member Federations at which World Athletics’ Competition Rules and Technical Rules are enforced, but will not be permitted to be worn at the World Athletics Series or the Olympic Games.

The development shoe can only be worn for a 12 month ‘development’ period.

A list of approved development shoes will be posted on the World Athletics website stating the date from which the development shoe can be worn and the expiry date for approval. To date there is a list of 200 (spikes and non-spikes) approved shoes listed and published on the World Athletics website.

This new proposal will be complemented by an athletic shoe availability scheme for shoes which is being developed by a Working Group on Athletic Shoes with representatives from shoe manufacturers and the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI).

World Athletics CEO Jon Ridgeon said: “The use of competition to complete the final testing of development shoes by manufacturers has always been an important part of the shoe development process. This year has been a difficult one for both shoe manufacturers and athletes with significant disruption to manufacturing and reduced access to competitions for athletes around the world.

“With shoe manufacturers agreeing to our new process of submitting specifications and shoes, if required, for approval ahead of being worn in competition, we are confident that this amendment will not impact the integrity of competition.”

Summary of notes relating to the new rule:

"Development shoe" means a shoe (i.e. spike or road shoes) which has never been available for purchase but which a sports manufacturer is developing to bring to market and would like to conduct tests with their sponsored athletes (who agree to test the shoe) on issues such as safety and performance before the shoe is available for purchase.

Development shoes are not required to be made available for purchase or subject to the availability scheme provided that, prior to being worn for the first time, the development shoe meets the following conditions:

  • the athlete (or their representative) must submit the specification to World Athletics and, where requested, provide a sample of the development shoe for further examination which includes, if necessary, cutting up the shoe, and provide the date and event of the first competition at which the athlete wishes to compete in a development shoe

  • confirm the latest date upon which the sports manufacturer will make the final version of the development shoe available for purchase which must be not be later than 12 months after the first time the development shoe is worn in a competition.

  • the athlete (or their representative) submits to World Athletics a list containing the date and event of the first and all subsequent competitions at which the athlete proposes to wear a development shoe within the 12 month period. The athlete (or their representative) must notify World Athletics of any changes to that list.

  • the athlete (or their representative) has received prior written approval from World Athletics that the development shoe complies with the requirements of Rule 5 of the Technical Rules and is approved for use in competitions.

  • Subject to compliance with all rules and regulations (including this Rule 5 of the Technical Rules and these notes), performances achieved by an athlete wearing a development shoe will be valid. After the conclusion of a competition a development shoe must be handed over by the athlete on request by World Athletics for further investigation by World Athletics which includes, if necessary, cutting up the development shoe.

  • World Athletics will publish from time to time on its website a list of approved development shoes stating the date starting from which the development shoe can be worn and the expiry date for approval. No technical or proprietary information belonging to a sports manufacturer will be published.

  • After the expiry date specified the shoe no longer qualifies as a development shoe and can no longer be used in competitions. The shoe will be removed from the approved list after its expiry date and, subject to compliance with all rules and regulations (including this Rule 5 of the Technical Rules and these notes), results achieved by an athlete wearing the development shoe will remain valid.

  • In accordance with the rules and regulations, World Athletics reserves the right to classify a result as ‘Uncertified’ (‘UNC TR5.5’) or declare the athlete’s performance as invalid for non-compliance with Technical Rule 5.

World Athletics