"Sci-Tech Today talks about the role of technology in the Olympics from a unique perspective:
Every advance in the ever-accelerating juggernaut of sports technology threatens to widen the divide between Olympic haves and have-nots. Well-sponsored teams and rich governments pay top-end scientists and engineers to shape their skis, perfect their skates, tighten their suits, measure their gravitational pull.
I'm no luddite, but this seems to make these sports more about who can afford the best tech, and less about the true spirit of the games: bringing the best athletes from all countries together to compete. How can it be about the athletes, when some of the best athletes may never win due to lack of funding/tech?"
Well: there's two ways:
The Formula1 way: it's an expensive sport, so if you don't want to spend the money don't play. In Formula1 there are only a few people who have a chance at winning because everyone else is in a slower car.
The Nascar way: the restrictions are tight enough that everyone is basically driving the same car.
Bonus LeMons way: limit of $X that you can spend on the car, in some classes there is the rule that you must sell your car to anyone with the cash if you win.
Even in sports with no equipment, athletes from stronger programs will have had much better opportunities to train and have been able to devote more time to it. There's really no way to keep a level playing field at the highest levels.
"Bonus LeMons way: limit of $X that you can spend on the car, in some classes there is the rule that you must sell your car to anyone with the cash if you win."
This is, or was, how it was done in amateur sailboat racing. Do whatever the heck you want to your boat, but you must be prepared to sell your boat to any other competitor for $10K (or whatever) at any time or be DQ out of the race.
When I was a kid helping crew a neighbors glorious ship (3 meter dingy, really) it was more like $2K but I'm sure inflation, etc. Also middle class people could and did own lakefront property back then but now that would be a $10M house so I'm sure limits are higher in amateur competitive sailing.
The obvious solution, in a world of immigration and migration, is some sort of slave market for Olympic athletes, much like the american pro ball players drafts and the like. If you really want a Swedish skier or whatever, just buy one at a fixed price from someone who may or may not be "cheating"
According to my dad this was also the case with certain motorcycle racing classes in his day. That was also a time when a competitor would lend you a tool or give you a part you needed just out of camaraderie.
I've seen (on TV) this sort of tool lending, help each other out spirit of camaraderie happen still during the 2014 Dakar Rally. Competing teams and racers stopping to help extricate stuck vehicles or assist in repairs. So those days aren't completely gone, but the Dakar Rally is kind of unique.
I'd go with the NASCAR way, and the SPEC car races like CART/IROC. Even one more. You are issued equipment before the event (like 5 minutes before). It's supposed to be about the athlete not the gear.
Not just that. It would be very valuable to familiarize yourself with that "standard" equipment ahead of the competition. For example, all the rifles may be the same... but you need to know that with cold barrel they shoot 1/2" lower; or if you pull on the sling with 30N this will affect the aim point by another 1/2" ... Not everyone would be allowed to learn those details; those who do learn will have a large advantage.
In F1 the richer teams are obliged to help out the less well off ones. It doesn't put them on an equal footing by any means but it keeps them competitive.