Pistorius, Double-Amputee, Allowed To Sprint

By Chris Le

It was announced earlier today that the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has allowed Oscar Pistorius, a double-amputee sprinter, to compete against able-bodied athletes in the forthcoming Olympic qualifiers. This arrives after the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) ruled the 21-year-old South African ineligible last January.

The controversy surrounding Pistorius, also known as “The Blade Runner,” whose legs were amputated when 11 months old due to congenital absence of both fibulas (the outer bone between the knee and ankle), lies in his “Cheetah Flex-Foot” prosthetics.

There are claims by researchers and fellow sprinters that the synthetic appendages specifically used by Pistorius are unnecessarily long, allowing him to cover more ground with each stride. Additionally, since consisting of carbon fibre, the prosthetics are able to do and withstand certain variables the average human ankle cannot. The little—meaning still insufficient—research that has been done, shows the artificial limbs do provide Pistorius with advantages.

But does his advantage of technology outweigh his disadvantage of missing two legs?

This is a tough issue to address and a bit of a heart vs. mind situation. On the one hand, who wants to root against a disabled person? No matter what, you’re going to look like a dick. Pistorius is an inspiration and should be lauded as such. He embodies all the feel-good qualities of sports. He’s the ultimate underdog. Emotionally, I want this guy to go to the Olympics, win the gold medal and live happily ever after.

But I’m finding it almost impossible to overlook the mechanical one-up on his competitors. Slice it anyway you want, in the end, it’s an uneven playing field, whether the prosthetic turns out to be in his favor or not.

As callous as it may seem to ban him from running in the Olympics, it might be as unfair and irrational to allow him to compete.


6 responses to “Pistorius, Double-Amputee, Allowed To Sprint

  1. Ah, I’m so glad you wrote about this, Chris. I have decided on the unpopular opinion of not allowing this guy to compete with able bodies. Viewing the race from your link alone, one doesn’t need science to notice the huge advantage Pistorius has towards the end of the race, springing off with each stride impossible by the human legs. It appears to hold an advantage in longer distances, and you wonder how much more energy he saves without his legs. If I may, that’s just an upper-body workout compared to the others having their legs exhausted as well, right? I guess just have him dominate in the Special Olympics?

    While I was ranting about the unfairness to a friend, I brought up the idea of people forfeiting their legs to have this advantage if it were to be allowed in the Olympics. Sounds crazy, I know, but you know there are people out there who will do ANYTHING to get that upper-edge (the new generation apart from users of banned substances).

    Then I came across this movie called Quid Pro Quo due out on 6/13, which I know it’s a movie, but I’d be surprised if there WASN’T someone out there like this, that’s about normally-abled people who desperately desire to become disabled. So sorry, Pistorius. We don’t want a slippery slope of people WANTING their legs amputated for any reason. We already see enough sick things here in the U.S.

  2. Who cares what race this guy runs in. I wanna see him in a kick-boxing fight with Van Damme.

  3. BJ, Pistorius has already dominated the Paralympics, winning 10 gold medals and setting 5 world records.

    From wikipedia:

    “In November 2007, German professor Gert-Peter Brueggemann began testing the artificial limbs for the International Association of Athletics Federations. His study found that Pistorius’s limbs used 25% less energy than able-bodied runners to run at the same speed, and that they led to less vertical motion combined with 30% less mechanical work for lifting the body.”

    Vince, in his prime, I have Jean Claude knocking out Pistorius early with one of his patented spinning, aerial split-kicks.

  4. I second that, especially because Pistorius has the disadvantage of not being able to bend his lower legs and feet. See, we found a new sport for him. Go conquer kickboxing, buddy!

  5. Just saw the trailer for “Quid Pro Quo.” Looks interesting.

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