Monday, January 14, 2008

Amputee wants to run in the Olympics

Below is an incredible story about an amputee who wants to compete in the Olympics. Of course he should not be able to. He is using man-made instruments in order to compete. I'm not denigrating his tragedy or his will to succeed, but everyone should be realisitic and fair. It would be another sign of our downfall as a civilization if this man were to compete as though he was normal. The shame of it is that its' gotten this far, and he still is appealing. We should be ecstactic about the medical technology that allows injured people to live fulfilling and fruitful lives. Yet, we shouldn't let this suspend our good judgement.

Amputee ineligible for the Olympics

LONDON — Track and field’s world governing body ruled on Monday that Oscar Pistorius, a double-amputee sprinter from South Africa, is not be eligible to compete in Olympic qualifying events. The International Association of Athletics Federations explained in a statement that, after an independent scientific study, it deemed Pistorius’s state-of-the-art carbon fiber prosthetics “should be considered as technical aids which give him an advantage over other athletes not using them.”

advice in order to prepare an appeal. “We need to speak with the I.A.A.F. first and see what approaches we can follow there,” Van Zyl said in a telephone interview from South Africa. “The last resort will probably be the Court of Arbitration for Sport.”
Pistorius, 21, was born without fibulas and had both legs amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old. But in the four years since he started competing, he has set
Paralympic world records in the 100, 200 and 400 meters and it was his dream to compete in the Olympic Games.
The I.A.A.F. had originally cleared him to compete against able-bodied athletes last June, pending further scientific examination of his j-shaped blades, known as Cheetahs. But in the meantime, Pistorius became the focus of an intense ethical debate over the limits which should be placed on technology. So last November, the I.A.A.F. arranged for Pistorius to travel to Cologne, Germany, where he was tested for two days under the supervision of Peter Brueggemann, a professor at the German Sport University.
Brueggemann’s biomechanical and physiological analysis found that from a mechanical standpoint, the Cheetahs were more efficient than a human ankle and could in fact return energy in maximum speed sprinting. Specifically, he established that “the mechanical advantage of the blade in relation to the healthy ankle joint of an able-bodied athlete is higher than 30 percent.” This means, according to the statement, that Pistorius was able to run at the same speed as the able-bodied sprinters with about “25 percent less energy expenditure.”
In a telephone interview last week, however, Brueggemann noted that this did not necessarily translate to a general advantage. Still, it was enough for the I.A.A.F. to decide that the Cheetahs are in “clear contravention” of the rules.
Last week, the I.A.A.F. allowed Pistorius to circulate the findings from the Cologne tests to a number of other experts. Based on their opinions, Van Zyl believes that Pistorius still has a strong case.
“Everyone that came back to us said that there were too many variables that weren’t considered and that more testing should be done,” he said. “They said a verdict can’t be reached only on the information that was collected.”
Van Zyl added that, though Pistorius was “obviously disappointed,” he had seen the decision coming. The I.A.A.F. was originally supposed to deliver its verdict last Thursday, before pushing it back to Saturday, and again to Monday, in order to allow Pistorius time to give a formal response. He did so last Friday, promising to appeal any decision against him.
“I feel that it is my responsibility,” Pistorius told The Associated Press, “on behalf of myself and all other disabled athletes, to stand firmly and not allow one organization to inhibit our ability to compete using the very tools without which we simply cannot walk, let alone run. I will not stand down.”
The statement from the I.A.A.F. only specified the Cheetahs, manufactured by the Icelandic-based company Ossur, as illegal technical aids. It remains unclear what the ruling will mean for other disabled athletes hoping to participate in able-bodied competition with different prosthetics.
But Van Zyl has not given up hope for Pistorius, who has yet to match the automatic qualifying time for the 2008 Olympics of 45.55 seconds in the 400 meters. “He still wants to be an Olympian, but it’s not looking like it’ll be Beijing,” he said. “We’ll see if we can’t
get him in London in 2012. We’re going to try and explore all possible avenues to get him competing in the Olympics.”

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