Human Interest

                                         AP/Denis Farrell
Champion runner and double amputee
Oscar Pistorius

Amputee Sprinter Eligible to Compete in Olympics

May 18, 2008 04:20 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
An international court has ruled that amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius is eligible to compete in the Olympics.

30-Second Summary

He calls himself "The Fastest Man on No Legs," and now 21-year-old Oscar Pistorius is eligible to compete in the Olympics, having successfully challenged the idea that his prosthetic legs give him an unfair advantage in competition.

The situation has highlighted the increasingly murky ethics in the relationship between technology and athletics. At a time when it's legal for baseball players to wear high-powered contacts to improve their vision at the plate and endurance athletes to sleep in hyperbaric chambers to up their red blood cell counts, the fairness of technological aids has become a prominent question in sports.

Previously, the International Association of Athletics Federation had decided that Pistorius's high-tech legs offered him an unfair advantage over sprinters with natural legs, making him ineligible for Beijing.

Pistorius called the decision a form of discrimination, citing the admittance of transgender athletes into the 2004 Olympics as an argument for his case.

With the 2008 Beijing Olympics approaching in August, Pistorius is a second short of meeting the men's Olympic qualifying standard of 45.55 seconds in the 400 meters. With little chance of qualifying for this year's games, Pistorius has set his sights on the 2012 Olympics in London.

Headline Links: ‘Olympic Dream Stays Alive, on Synthetic Legs’

Reaction: Pistorius looks to 2012

Key Player: Oscar Pistorius

Background Links: Are prosthetic legs an unfair advantage?

Opinion & Analysis: How will prosthetics affect the future of sports?

Historical Context: Casey Martin and transgendered athletes

Related Topics: Technology and athletics

Athletic enhancements
Advances in prosthetics

Reference Material: Ossur prosthetics, IAAF and the 2008 Olympics


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