Vienna City Marathon Winner DQ'ed Over Shoe Selection


Here's a little more fuel for the "technological doping" discussion! This weekend Ethiopia's Derara Hurisa was DQ'ed after winning the Vienna City marathon because the soles of his shoes exceeded the 4 cm upper limit by 1 cm... Hurisa finished in 2:09:22, just 3 seconds ahead Kenya's Leonard Langat.

I think, most importantly, this appears to be a deliberate effort by Hurisa to skirt the rules. The article notes that the race required the elites to register their shoes beforehand and that Hurisa raced in a different pair of shoes from those which he had registered. Moreover, the elites were also reminded of these restrictions during a technical meeting beforehand.

The article does not identify the shoes but, from some of the other images floating around, it is clear that he was wearing the Adios Prime X. Given that during its initial hype the Prime X was directly marketed as a competition-ineligible shoe (now simply billed as "innovation without limitation"), I don't think there's any room for Hurisa to feign ignorance here. Interestingly enough, the second place finisher appeared to be wearing the adidas Adios Pro 2.

Another talking point, it seems that Hurisa has just one previous marathon result, a 2:08:09 at the 2020 Mumbai marathon, to compare this against. So, given that he didn't improve upon that mark, it is difficult to say that the Prime X offers a significant performance advantage to the individual (although conditions between the two races are obviously not 1:1). Had Hurisa's result been a significant jump then I think that really would have stirred the pot concerning shoes...

As a final talking point, for those looking to bend the rules, this is a pretty "safe" but obviously very ineffective attempt at cheating. Whereas biological doping will earn you a ban, this has only yielded a DQ and, despite my earlier comment, Hurisa still has a tiny shred of plausible deniability. Biological doping is a very willful act whereas there is still a slim possibility that shoe selection is an "oopsie" moment. Still, I cannot imagine completing a 2:09 effort (sub 5/mile) and having it count for nothing.
Then it seems having a standard limitation works, it's enforceable? However, would this apply to anyone not in contention for prize money? It seems rather curious that adidas would roll out an intentionally rules-flouting shoe and distribute it to a sponsored athlete without any caveat. Of course, as laid out in Nike's Big Bet, it was rather curious that World Athletics's standard neatly exceeded Nike's developed maximum stack in the Alphafly by 0.5mm.

Further: They Can Get You Disqualified, But Are Thicker Shoes Faster?
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Hah - I think the shoe game is very interesting and it is certainly very curious that the Alphafly scraped just underneath the bar. As a lawyer, I have to imagine that whoever drafted these rules just got very lazy and looked at whatever the current top of the pile was and decided to draw their line in the sand there. Still, I haven't seen Nike's Big Bet but given some of their business practices, I think some tinfoilhatting is appropriate.

As to the Prime X and what Adidas was thinking. The timeline of the past two years is fuzzy but I believe they were released long after the issuance of the current standards but I am not sure if they were in development beforehand. I believe they were released as a sort of concept shoe. The pros may not be able to race in them but we are more than welcome to strap them on and destroy our local neighborhood 5k . Also, to that end, for weekend warriors like me who are desperately trying to get any advantage necessary to BQ, the shoes are certainly appealing...