Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The hazy boundary between fair and unfair

The IAAF ruled Monday that double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius is ineligible to compete in the Beijing Olympics because his prosthetic racing blades give him a clear competitive advantage....

The runner worked with Brueggemann in Cologne for two days of testing in November to learn to what extent the j-shaped carbon-fiber extensions to his amputated legs differed from the legs of fully abled runners.

Brueggemann found that Pistorius was able to run at the same speed as able bodied runners on about a quarter less energy. He found that once the runners hit a certain stride, athletes with artificial limbs needed less additional energy than other athletes.

The professor found that the returned energy "from the prosthetic blade is close to three times higher than with the human ankle joint in maximum sprinting.''

Based on these findings, the Council ruled against Pistorius.

The findings are contested by the Pistorius camp.

"Based on the feedback that we got, the general feeling was that there were a lot of variables that weren't taken into consideration and that all avenues hadn't been explored in terms of coming to a final conclusion on whether Oscar was getting some advantage or not," Van Zyl said. "We were hoping that they would reconsider and hopefully do some more tests."

The IAAF adopted a rule last summer prohibiting the use of any "technical aids" deemed to give an athlete an advantage over another.

Ossur, the Icelandic company which is a leader in the production of prosthetics, braces and supports and also made Pistorius' blades, has said the blades do not provide an edge over able-bodied athletes.

Pistorius has set world records in the 100, 200 and 400 in Paralympic events.

Pistorius was born without fibulas -- the long, thin outer bone between the knee and ankle -- and was 11 months old when his legs were amputated below the knee.

-IAAF rules Pistorius' prosthetics give him unfair advantage

Study Suggests That Amputee Holds an Unfair Advantage
An Amputee Advantage?- shows the issue graphically

An Amputee Sprinter: Is He Disabled or Too-Abled?

via Cafe Hayek

No comments: