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23 May 2008 10:32
Lamine Diack, president of the International Association of Athletics Federations, is cautious about the implications of “blade runner” Oscar Pistorius’s successful appeal.
Speaking at the athletics grand prix in Dakar, in his native Senegal, Diack said that it was important to monitor any changes to Pistorius’s prostheses, but accepted last Friday’s decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to allow him to try to qualify for the Olympics.
“We came to the conclusion that the Cheetah [prostheses] gave an advantage,” Diack said, “and given that advantage, it would help him win—so we decided that it was not possible for him to compete.
But he was right to go to [the] CAS, which he did, and they said that it was not fully established that there was an advantage.
“He is a boy born into this situation—having had an operation after 11 months, not an accident at 11 years—and after the operation, he used to consider himself a normal boy, running, playing football and rugby and so on. We understand that he wants to compete in able-bodied competition, which he used to do in South Africa.
“But we have to be careful [about] what can happen using these kinds of devices, which is why we made our original rule. Now it’s OK, because he is going to run.”
Asked if he was happy that the CAS said that they will reconsider their decision if there are changes to the device, Diack said: “The decision is not definitive. We have to be careful about any kind of people using a special device.”
Asked if he now backed Pistorius’s bid to qualify, he said: “If he manages to make it, that’s OK.”
Pistorius will try to achieve the time he needs to compete in the Olympic 400m in Beijing at a meeting in Milan on July 2. The 21-year-old must run 45,55 seconds or faster to qualify for the Games—more than a second quicker than his Paralympic world record of 46,56.
“A lot of the time this year we’ve devoted to the court case,” Pistorius said. “Now that I am back home my time can be dedicated to training. I am going to have to start getting my body in shape to run those qualifying times. I am hopeful there will be enough time but it is going to be very difficult.”—Â
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