Technology has become an integral component of sports. Athletes often use technology in the form of analysis and assessment in order to perfect their techniques. The gear and equipment used in sports are always being reengineered in an effort to improve and perfect their performances. Instances of use of certain technologies have also created controversies and questions have been raised about ethical use.
Here's a list of tech use that have been sources of debates and controversies.
Speed enhancing swimsuits in Beijing Olympics
Most swimmers at the Beijing Olympic in 2008 used Speedo LZR swimsuits, created to enhance a swimmer's speed. The swimsuit, covering the whole body, optimised body compression and hydrodynamics. Speedo claims that its suit offers a 38% reduction in the amount of drag or water resistance compared to an ordinary suit. It resulted in an approximately four percent increase in speed. This provided such an advantage that swimmers without this suit did not even have a chance of winning. Japanese swimmers even disregarded their sponsorship arrangements to wear Speedo LZR in the 2008 Olympics. The swimsuit was a contributing factor in the breaking of 23 of the 25 world records in the Beijing Olympics. However, the sport's governing body FINA banned the swimsuits in 2010, though the Olympics results were kept.
Oscar Pistorius competing with artificial legs
Sprinter Oscar Pistorius, who had both of his legs amputated, wanted to run against able-bodied sprinters in the Olympics, as well as competing in the Paralympics in Beijing. His prosthetic legs had an ESR (energy storage and return) mechanism that functioned similarly to a spring. The International Amateur Athletic Federation or IAAF (currently World Athletics) claimed that the technology would give Pistorius an unfair advantage over other able-bodied runners. The artificial legs had inertial benefits due to its reduced mass and required 25% less energy to maintain the same speed. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) did not believe that Pistorius' use of an ESR prosthesis gave him a net advantage. It reversed the IAAF decision and allowed him to compete in able-bodied events.
Nike Vaporfly running sneakers
Eliud Kipchoge, an athlete from Kenya, finished a marathon in under two hours in late 2019, which shook up the running world. The world records set by Eliud Kipchoge in Vienna and Brigid Kosgei in Chicago demonstrated how advancements in shoe technology have helped athletes compete at a higher level. Aside from being from the same nation and working out together, these two athletes who broke records had another thing in common: they both broke their records while wearing a prototype of the new Nike Vaporfly 4% shoes. Nike has shown that these shoes improve the performance of runners by increasing the amount of energy that runners spend. As a result, runners have an advantage over other athletes who do not wear these shoes.
Polara golf ball de-skilling golf
One example of a technological advancement that makes a sport "too easy" and, as a result, less challenging is the Polara golf ball, as per many golf experts and analysts. The technological innovation in the ball is said to have helped less skilled players who were more prone to making mistakes. But it was of little use to more experienced golfers who were already competent at hitting the ball in the intended direction. It had the effect of making the game easier for everyone. This ball has a unique design which reduces drag and allows it to fly straighter and longer. Ultimately, the ball was banned in professional golf for its self-correcting mechanism.
Engineers determining the outcomes of the cycling
In the 1990s, bike design saw a flurry of improvements and innovations. Before that bikes were largely unchanged since the 19th century. With tech innovations came lots of new records in professional cycling. The international cycling governing body was concerned that things were getting out of hand and that engineers may be influencing the outcomes, so they decided to ban the use of certain designs. The regulations were subsequently rewritten in such a manner that a rider was required to employ a design that was comparable to those that were manufactured fifty years ago. Although it was a good concept, riders never stopped looking for ways to get around the rules. Late in 2014, the governing body went back and changed its regulations in order to make room for more modern designs.
Hawk Eye makes umpires redundant in Tennis
The Hawk Eye technology has rendered umpires and line judges into mannequins, whose only responsibility was to ensure that the score was updated accurately and to request the Hawk Eye to review any questionable line calls. Before the advent of high-tech, tennis had to rely on human judges for important decisions. Now it seems that the tennis authorities are seeking to do away with any type of human interaction that may occur when players are competing on the court.