Olympics in sight after Pistorius wins appeal

Double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius won his appeal on Friday and can compete for a place in the Beijing Olympics.

The Court of Arbitration (CAS) for Sport ruled that the 21-year-old South African is eligible to race against able-bodied athletes, overturning a ban imposed by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

CAS said the unanimous ruling goes into effect immediately.

Pistorius must still reach a qualifying time to run in the individual 400m at the August 8 to 24 Beijing Games. However, he can be picked for the South African relay squad without qualifying.

Pistorius appealed to CAS, world sport’s highest tribunal, to overturn a ruling by the IAAF, which banned him from competing against able-bodied runners. The IAAF said his carbon-fibre blades gave him a mechanical advantage.

A two-day hearing was held before a panel of three arbitrators at CAS headquarters last month.

Pistorius holds the 400m Paralympic world record of 46,56 seconds, but that time is outside the Olympic qualifying standard of 45,55. His training has also been disrupted by the appeal process.

Even if Pistorius fails to get the qualifying time, South African selectors could add the University of Pretoria student to the Olympic 1 600m relay squad.

Pistorius would not require a qualifying time and could be taken to Beijing as an alternate. Six runners can be picked for the relay squad.

Pistorius also expects to compete in Beijing at the September 6 to 17 Paralympic Games.

The verdict also clears Pistorius to dedicate himself to competing at the 2012 London Olympics.

The IAAF based its January decision on studies by German Professor Gert-Peter Brueggemann, who said the J-shaped ”Cheetah” blades were energy efficient.

Pistorius’s lawyers countered with independent tests conducted by a team led by MIT Professor Hugh Herr, which claimed to show he doesn’t gain any advantage over able-bodied runners.

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. — Sapa-AP

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