‘Tech Doping’: Unequal access to tech may bring unfairness in games

If you are wearing a pair of Converse, would you race with your friends wearing running shoes? Aside from being afraid of breaking your limited edition sneakers, you probably won’t mind. After all, it’s just for fun.

But what if you are in an Olympic Game, and some of your rivals have state-of-the-art footwear which may fly them to the moon?

Unlike body-length swimsuits being banned and motors in bikes being officially regarded as ‘mechanical doping’, many of these technologies are just being disputed and are not considered as a breach of the rules.

This may be due to the fact that sometimes tech are just evolving so fast that sufficient evidence not yet exist to prove whether a new equipment would enhance performance and create unfair advantages.

Yet, whenever bleeding edge new techs are spotted in competitions, there are always speculations that the athletes from richer countries are enjoying privileges with their better access to innovations.

Shall we just organise a techno-human Olympics to allow competing with both the athletes’ strength and the innovative and creative capabilities of their teams, like the Formula 1?

Or an ‘original edition’ to only allow the use of standardised equipments?

Or do we just need to draw a line to specify to what extend or in what way technology can be used?

Among all these question marks, one thing is certain. Studies and discussions on sports engineering and its regulations fall far behind the development of new science discoveries and their fancy applications.

Let’s just start the discussion by listening to what Play the Game speakers shared with On the Game at the conference last evening:

(Speakers according to their order of appearance):

Arno Hermans, founder of Sports eXperience from the Netherlands. He gave a speech at yesterday’s Play the Game on the topic ‘Disrupting sports: Winners and losers in the era of technology’.

Steven Vos, Professor at the Fontys University of Applied Sciences from the Netherlands. Although his speech was not on this issue, he gave interesting feedback to Hermans’ presentation during the session.

What about you?

Do you think sports engineering is bringing unfairness to the game?

  • What's wrong to be a cyborg? I really like RoboCop! - 0
  • Most sports require equipments. Just use it right. - 0
  • It's definitely unfair! Don't make the Olympics a robot battle! - 0
  • Err... hard to say... world is complicated... differs case by case... - 0
  • I don't like your options. Can I comment? (Yes you can!) - 0


(Feature photo: Arno Hermans, Founder, Sport eXperience, speaking at Play the Game 2017. Photo taken by Thomas Søndergaard/Play the Game)