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Federation expected to rule Pistorius ineligible for Beijing Games

1/10/2008

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- Track and field's ruling body is
expected to declare Saturday that double-amputee sprinter Oscar
Pistorius is ineligible to compete in the Beijing Olympics because
his prosthetic racing blades give him an unfair advantage.

Last month, German professor Gert-Peter Brueggemann, who
conducted tests on the prosthetic limbs, said the blades give the
21-year-old South African a competitive edge.

An official statement by the International Association of Athletics Federations announcing the finding was first expected
Thursday.
However, the ruling has been delayed by two days to give Pistorius
and his advisers time to respond.

"There will be no official announcement until the 12th," IAAF
spokesman Nick Davies said from Monte Carlo, Monaco.

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

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.

He began running five years ago to treat a rugby injury, and
nine months later won the 200 meters at the 2004 Paralympic Games
in Athens.

Pistorius has set world records in the 100, 200 and 400 in
Paralympic events. To make the Olympics in Beijing, Pistorius would
still need to qualify for the South African team and make the
qualifying times.

Pistorius worked with Brueggemann in Cologne for several days
of testing in November, comparing Pistorius' J-shaped
carbon-fiber "Cheetah" extensions with the legs of able-bodied runners.

Brueggemann told Die Welt newspaper last month that, based on
his research, Pistorius "has considerable advantages over athletes
without prosthetic limbs who were tested by us."

"It was more than just a few percentage points. I did not
expect it to be so clear," he added.

Brueggemann and his scientists tested Pistorius' energy
consumption and compared it with data of able-bodied athletes of
the same speed.

The IAAF is basing its decision on Brueggemann's work, and the
ruling is expected to go against the runner. Pistorius could then
appeal and ask for further tests.

Ossur, the Icelandic company that is a leader in the production
of prosthetics, braces and supports and made Pistorius' Cheetahs,
disagrees with Brueggemann's findings.

Ossur CEO Jon Sigurdsson wrote recently to the IAAF, telling the
federation that Pistorius "does not have a technical advantage
over able-bodied athletes. Based on biomechanics alone, it is
simply not possible for him or any amputee to have an advantage
over the able-bodied."

Pistorius -- nicknamed the "Blade Runner" -- competed in the 400 meters
at two international-level able-bodied meets in 2007. He finished
second in a "B" race in 46.90 seconds at the Golden League meet
in Rome on July 13 and, two days later, was disqualified for
running out of his lane in Sheffield, England.