World Athletics quietly repealed the ban on prototypes during the pandemic and none of the big sponsors have complained. So long as you meet all other technical specifications re: stack height and rigid plates, there’s nothing illegal about running in prototypes right now.
There were a few arguments against the prototype ban:
1) It, in effect, gave a massive advantage to Nike athletes, as they were first-to-market with “super spikes” and have an existing supply and distribution chain to sell spikes at retail at a scale that the other shoe companies have never done.
2) Because of the above, you saw some companies doing really ridiculous things like Allyson Felix’s spikes being “commercially available” — for several thousand dollars.
3) The introduction of technical specifications made it more clear what was allowed and what wasn’t, so there’s less potential for surprise innovations that would be regulated. So, the rules introduced an unnecessary delay.
4) (I suspect this is the main reason they got rid of the rule.) During the pandemic, the footwear supply chain was a MESS. Sponsors wanted their athletes in their new spikes ahead of the Olympics, but the manufacturers couldn’t get enough product made in time to meet the “commercial availability” criteria.
5) No shoe company (except maybe Nike) actually makes money selling spikes. (For example, I heard an interview once from Brooks former head of sports marketing and spike production costs were a part of HIS budget.) So the sponsors didn’t want to sink money into abiding by this rule.
I actually liked the rule in theory — we should encourage innovation but it was certainly unfair that non-Nike athletes didn’t know the Vaporfly existed for years. A prototype ban appeared to split the difference but has been unworkable in practice.
For crying out loud they're just shoes. Can I go to the local shoe maker and have them build me a shoe based on my design? Or should I not be able to race in it because it's not available for anyone else?
Years ago pole vault banned fiberglass poles because it was an unfair advantage for vaulters still using steel poles. Remind me again because I forget, what kind of poles are in use today?