World Athletics President Sebastian Coe has insisted that he has "no problems" with the pacing light system officially introduced this season and used to support a slew of recent track world records.
The Wavelight technology involves clusters of LEDs moving along the inside rim of the track offering guides to existing world- or area-record pace, and targeted pace to break those records, differentiated by different colours.
This system was in operation when Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei broke the world 5,000 metres record in Monaco in the opening Diamond League meeting of the season on August 14, and the world 10,000m record last week in Valencia, where Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey broke the women’s 5,000m record shortly beforehand.
It was also used at last month’s Diamond League meeting in Brussels, where Britain’s Sir Mo Farah and Sifan Hassan of The Netherlands broke the respective men’s and women’s one-hour race world records, and at the Hengelo meeting last Saturday where Hassan took more than 24 seconds off Paula Radcliffe’s European 10,000m record.
Speaking at the press conference on the eve of tomorrow’s World Athletics Half Marathon Championships in the Polish city of Gdynia, where Cheptegei will make his half-marathon debut, Coe responded to the following question posed by Kenya’s Nation news outlet: "There is a school of thought that Wavelight technology kills the essence of the real human competition - as a track legend, and World Athletics President, what are your thoughts?"
"You have to innovate, there’s no question about it," Coe answered.
"Of course there’s a balance.
"But what is it we are trying to do for people in our sport, particularly people we want to attract to our sport, who come to the stadium for the very first time and may know very little about the sport.
"We need to create a connection, and the key connection is understanding.
"And I think it’s really important that we use innovation so that we foster and further understanding.
"Pace lights I have no problems with.
"Our one-day meetings are really about entertainment - let’s not be coy about it.
"And I think Wavelight, that allows people in the stadium, people on television, to understand a little bit more about the extraordinary talent, the extraordinary speeds that our competitors are running at, actually lends the type of understanding that I want.
"We have had pacemakers for as long as I can remember - we had pacemakers in the 1950s and 60s helping athletes break records, in the 40s even.
"And the Four Minute Mile was a pace-made event.
"So I will always embrace innovation.
"There is a balance, but I think that pace lights are actually a very good way of lending further understanding and excitement and little bit of jeopardy and allowing the world to see just how good our competitors are."