May 05, 2005

Blurring the Lines

Read this story about double amputee Oscar Pistorius of South Africa.

Pistorius, who runs the sprints with two carbon-fibre "blades" where you and I have legs, will run in an IAAF Grand Prix event in Helsinki in July, and hopes to race in the Olympics in 2008.

Pistorius' world record 400 m time of 47.34 seconds would have placed him 47th in Athens, faster than 14 of the competitors but about 1.5 seconds too slow to qualify for the semi-finals. (About 30 seconds faster than I can run it, mind you …) The only South African in the event ran 45.95, also not quite fast enough to make the semis.

Considering that Pistorius is only 18 years old, a 1.5 second improvement in four years does not seem out of the question. But what will happen when he qualifies to compete at the Olympics? As is alluded to in the article, the IAAF is eventually going to have to deal with the extremely uncomfortable question of whether Pistorius' sophisticated prostheses offer him an advantage over a runner who is fortunate enough to have two legs.

Not to compare Pistorius to athletes who voluntarily have their bodies modified to gain a competitive advantage, but this reminded me that Greg at Sports Law Blog has written a couple of recent posts on the subject of performance-enhancing surgery of various types (start here and work back).

1 comment:

Amateur said...

Here's a follow-up story about Pistorius.