Opinion Former Article

IET: Concerns Over Performance-Enhancing Technology Limiting Future of Sports Innovation

London, 17th May 2012: Questions over the role of engineering in pushing the limits of athletic performance at this summer’s Olympics and Paralympics continue to raise concerns as to whether performance-enhancing technology compromises the competition’s ethos or levels the playing field in an increasingly competitive arena.

Speaking at the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s (IET) Sports Technology Lecture, Dr David James, senior lecturer in sports engineering at Sheffield Hallam University, will discuss that while science and engineering has been a key catalyst in enabling athletes in the Paralympics community, optimising sports technology is being explored by all elite performers worldwide. Working with 14 of Great Britain’s 2012 Olympic and Paralympics teams, Dr. James will highlight the benefits of performance-enhancing technology, by drawing on this experience and some of the most recent high-profile examples, including the controversy surrounding South African runner and double amputee Oscar Pistorius.

In his upcoming lecture, Dr James will reveal how advances in technology can be wedded to advances in athleticism, particularly in pushing the human physical and psychological boundaries. While some critics equate performance enhancement to unfairness and some even putting forward the idea of ‘technology doping’, Dr James will discuss that both fairness and victory are driving the enhancement techniques pioneered by the sports scientist and engineer.

“There is no question that both science and engineering have dramatically shaped the modern sporting world and continues to keep it exciting, competitive and relevant,” says Dr James. “At the very core of sport is the idea of fairness and the idea that true champions can be achieved by virtuously perfecting natural talent. The role of the scientist and engineer does exactly this - aiding all athletes in being the best they can be despite the obstacles.”

The lecture will go on to reveal the different approaches and designs that could revolutionise performance and narrow the gap between victory and second place. While ground-breaking in his approach, Dr James will highlight the criticism he has faced by those who fear that such ideas could limit contests to those who are able to afford the investment in technology.

Dr James concludes, “Contrary to widespread opinion, gaining an advantage over your competitor is not a problem, indeed it is the very essence of what sport is all about. Everything an athlete does is focused on gaining a competitive advantage; the purpose of all their training and preparation is to disrupt the so called ‘level playing field’. Technology is just another part of this process, and arguably many sports now test the skill to which an athlete can exploit technology as well as the somewhat more traditional ideals of natural talent. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the world of Paralympic sport.”

The Sports Technology Lecture will take place on Thursday 24 May at 6:00pm at IET London: Savoy Place and is part of the wider IET Olympic Project. Along with this new addition to the IET’s Prestige Lecture Series, the IET is celebrating today’s most ground breaking advancements in sports technology with the new Sports Technologies Innovation category at this year’s IET Innovation Awards.

The IET Sports Technology lecture is free to attend and more details can be found at http://conferences.theiet.org/sportstech/

-ENDS-
For more information or to register your attendance, please contact:
Anne Ligory / Amy McKenna
Rocket Communications
+44 (0) 8453 707 024
ietlectures@rocketcomms.net

About IET Lectures
Attending an IET Lecture is your opportunity to see the future of engineering. IET Lectures are free to attend and are a key highlight of the IET’s events calendar. Showcasing the latest ideas and technologies, the nine lectures cover a range of engineering disciplines, ranging from general interest to the more technical.

The President of the IET begins his year in office with an inaugural lecture every October. Many of the lectures were established in memory of engineers who achieved exemplary and ground breaking work in their day. The speakers invited to give IET Lectures are of that calibre – innovative, forward-thinking and at the top of their game.

For more information, please visit: www.theiet.org/lectures
 

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