Sports regulators warned about future of ‘technology doping’

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American swimmer Ryan Lochte will be hoping for an advantage from Speedo’s latest equipment at this year’s Olympic Games

Having seen what performance enhancements technology can bring to sportsmen and women in this month’s DEVELOP3D, there’s a worry that further tech development will lead to unfair advantages.

Advances in nanotechnology, 3D printing and biomedical engineering are set to bring about a technological revolution in sport over the next few years, with UK sports engineers at its heart, according to a new report launched today by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Prosthetic limbs that can be controlled by the nervous system, spray-on clothing and personalised running shoes 3D printed minutes before a race, are all devices that elite athletes could be using within a matter of years.
To prepare for these developments and counter accusations of ‘technology doping’, the report calls for sporting regulators to work with engineers to predict the consequences a new technology might have on a sport.

“Engineering has had an enormous, and under-appreciated, influence on sport over the past hundred years. Almost every sport, from athletics to cycling, has benefited from the introduction of new materials, techniques and tools that have helped keep them relevant and exciting,” panted Philippa Oldham, lead report author and head of manufacturing at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, fresh from trying to keep up with the athletes.

“Over the next few years we are set to see a wave of new technology from the very cutting-edge of engineering enter sport. Yet many sporting regulators still refuse to engage with engineers to find out what effect these advances might have.


“It is vital for sports regulators to work with engineers to make sure these advances are introduced fairly and openly so the sporting world isn’t taken by surprise.”

Read more about the technologies being used at London 2012 here.

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