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.