Spira Footwear - the 'Banned' Running Shoe Company - Files Lawsuit Against USATF and IAAF

Apr 09, 2007, 01:00 ET from Spira Footwear

    EL PASO, Texas, April 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Spira Footwear announced today
 that it has filed a lawsuit in U.S. Federal District Court against the
 International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) and the United States
 Association of Track and Field (USATF), the rule making bodies for Track
 and Field both internationally and domestically. The lawsuit alleges that
 application of IAAF and USATF Rule 143 which purportedly bans spring
 technology for competition constitutes a violation of the Sherman Anti
 Trust Act and a restraint of trade.
     Spira owns the patent rights to the WaveSpring(TM) technology in
 footwear. Spira alleges that the USATF rules prohibiting spring technology
 has effectively prohibited its ability to gain market acceptance of its
 technology as most elite runners will not compete in Spira products for
 fear of disqualification or sanction by the USATF. The USATF governs all
 competitive track and filed events and road racing in the U.S. including
 the Olympic Trials.
     The IAAF rule, as amended in December, 2005, requires that shoes for
 competition be submitted for approval to the IAAF's technical committee.
 Spira alleges it followed the IAAF guidelines by submitting its shoes for
 approval in September, 2006. Despite repeated requests for a determination
 of its legality, Spira has yet to be provided with a response.
     A press conference has been scheduled for Friday, April 13, 2007, 12:30
 p.m. at the Jurys Hotel, 350 Stuart Street, in Boston with Foot Solutions
 team and coach Sue Bozgoz, Runners World's seven-time Runner-of-the-Year
 Tatyana Pozdnyakova, Coach of the Greater Boston Track Club Tom Derderian,
 Spira CEO Andy Krafsur and attorney Roy Brandys of Ray, Valdez,
 McChristian, who filed the lawsuit, in attendance.
     Spira has long been at odds with USATF. In 2006, in order to bring
 attention to unfairness of the Rule, Spira launched its "Banned in Boston"
 campaign, offering $1 million to any runner who wins the Boston Marathon in
 the "Banned" shoe and runs the risk of disqualification.
     The few elite runners who have competed in the shoe, have done so with
 caution. Keith Pierce, a track coach from Krum, Texas, and a U.S. Olympic
 trials hopeful, competed in the shoe at the 2007 Cowtown Marathon in Fort
 Worth, Texas. He won the race by over 12 minutes.
     According to a recent story in the El Paso, Inc., Pierce said he does
 not believe the shoe provided him with an unfair advantage and indicates he
 would not risk competing in the shoes in attempting to qualify for the
 Olympic Trials.
     Pierce stated in the news story that he was aware of the USATF
 prohibition against the use of the shoes in competition. In fact, he
 acquired his first pair of the shoes at last year's Boston Marathon, where
 Spira was providing shoes to elite runners. "But Cowtown didn't have a ban
 on the shoe so I didn't do anything wrong," he said. "I think the whole
 USATF ban is ridiculous. I like them because they are the lightest shoes
 I've ever trained in. Really, they aren't that different. I've run 5-K's
 and 15-K's in those shoes and my times have been no faster than in regular
     Krafsur indicates that the dispute over the legality of the shoes is
 hardly surprising. "When you look at the history of innovation,
 particularly in the sporting industry, it's not unusual to see
 revolutionary technology at odds with long established rules," he said.
 "Consider the oversized composite tennis racquet or the oversized metal
 club head in golf. They were banned when they were first introduced as well
 simply because the rules of the day could not keep up with the pace of
 revolutionary change. These changes are good, not bad for the sport. How
 much more enjoyable are tennis and golf, and how may more people
 participate in the sport because of these innovations? The WaveSpring
 technology is no different."
     There is precedent for innovators seeking to use the court system to
 challenge rules of governing bodies on Anti-Trust grounds. In 1989, Ping
 and a number of professional golfers sued the United States Golf
 Association over the legality of the ban on its U-grooved club face. The
 lawsuit settled just prior to trial with the USGA agreeing to allow the
 technology for competition.
     Several elite marathon runners with the Foot Solutions team, including
 Charles Nyakundi Nyamoki (PR-2:16), Belay Teka Kassa (PR-2:18), Tamrat
 Awalew (PR-2:12), Jared Nyamboki (PR-2:21), (1/2 marathon time-1:01)
 Birhanu Wukaw (PR-2:17), Joseph Sitienei (PR-2:11) (1/2 marathon time-1:01)
 Josphat Ongeri (PR-2:17), and Oleg Strijakov (PR-2:11) are planning to defy
 the ban and race in the Spira shoe.
     Matt Lacks For Spira Footwear
     Holly Fields - Spira Director Marketing and Communications
     Office -915-838-8640
     Cell - 915-276-9912
     Andy Krafsur - Spira CEO
     Roy Brandys - Ray, Valdez, McChristian

SOURCE Spira Footwear