Pistorius loses hope of making Beijing

Double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius has virtually given up his fight to compete at the Beijing Olympics and is focusing his efforts on running at the 2012 London Games.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) ruled on January 14 that the South African was ineligible to compete at the Olympics or any other sanctioned able-bodied event because his “Cheetah” prosthetic blades give him a technical advantage.

Given the lengthy process of appealing the decision, Pistorius said on Monday he holds little, if any, hope of appearing at the August 8 to 24 Beijing Games.

“I can’t even run in qualifiers. I won’t be able to run in Beijing anyway, so I am looking at 2012,” Pistorius said before an appearance in Milan organised by the national sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport.

The IAAF ruling was based on studies it commissioned by German professor Gert-Peter Brueggemann, who conducted tests on the prosthetic limbs and said they gave Pistorius a mechanical edge.

Pistorius urged the IAAF to write rules that would make clear exactly under what circumstances he would be able to compete. He and his manager plan to appeal the decision.

Pistorius still has not achieved the South African qualification time for the Olympics and is unable to compete in able-body races that would give him the chance to meet the mark in the 400m.

Pistorius’s best times to date would not put him in Olympic medal contention.

Pistorius again disputed the claims that the prosthetic limbs give him an advantage, saying that United States experts have come to different conclusions from the same data analysed in Germany.
He also said that the company that manufacturers the prosthetics have said that the design is passive—as opposed to an active, bionic prosthetic—meaning that it does not produce more energy than is put in.

“If the leg did give me an advantage, we’d go and look at it and change the design,” Pistorius said. “I don’t want to run on an advantage.”

Pistorius also vigorously addressed concerns that the prospect of prosthetics boosting performance would encourage athletes to amputate limbs to improve their times. He cited the example of a South African runner who lost a leg and returned to running with a prosthetic with a 100m time 1,1 seconds slower.

“If anyone says you can cut your leg off to be faster, I tell you right now you are going to be slower,” Pistorius said.

Two Italian International Olympic Committee members present at Pistorius’s Milan appearance, Ottavio Cinquanta and Franco Carraro, both said that the IOC had no jurisdiction in the dispute and that it was up to the governing body to issue technical standards.

Carraro, however, said current rules were written with able-bodied athletes in mind and did not take into account a “phenomenon” like Pistorius.

Pistorius was born without fibulas—the long, thin outer bone between the knee and ankle—and was 11 months old when his legs were amputated below the knee.

Pistorius has set world records in the 100m, 200m and 400m in Paralympic events.

Pistorius finished second in the 400m at the South African national championships last year against able-bodied runners.—Sapa-AP

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