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With long appeals process ahead, Pistorius sets sights on 2012 Olympics

1/28/2008

MILAN, Italy -- Double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius has
virtually given up his fight to compete at the Beijing Olympics and
is concentrating on running at the 2012 London Games.


Track and field's governing body ruled Jan. 14 the South African
was ineligible to compete at the Olympics or any other sanctioned
able-bodied event because his "Cheetah" prosthetic blades give
him a technical advantage.


He plans to appeal the decision, but given the long process he
holds little hope of appearing at the Aug. 8-24 Beijing Games.


"I can't even run in qualifiers. I won't be able to run in
Beijing anyway, so I am looking at 2012," Pistorius said Monday
before an appearance organized by the national sports daily
Gazzetta dello Sport.


The IAAF ruling was based on studies it commissioned by German
professor Gert-Peter Brueggemann, who conducted tests on the
prosthetic limbs and said they gave Pistorius a mechanical edge.


Pistorius urged the IAAF to write rules that make clear exactly
under what circumstances he would be able to compete.


Pistorius still has not achieved the South African qualification
time for the Olympics and is unable to compete in able-body races
that would give him the chance to meet the mark in the 400 meters.
Pistorius' best times to date would not put him in Olympic medal
contention.


Pistorius again disputed the claims that the prosthetic limbs
give him an advantage, saying that U.S. experts have come to
different conclusions from the same data analyzed in Germany. He
also said that the company that manufacturers the prosthetics have
said that the design is passive -- as opposed to an active, bionic
prosthetic -- meaning it does not produce more energy than is input.


"If the leg did give me an advantage, we'd go and look at it
and change the design," Pistorius said. "I don't want to run on
an advantage."


Pistorius also dismissed the notion that athletes might amputate
limbs to improve their times with prosthetic devices. He cited the
example of a South African runner who lost a leg and returned to
running with a prosthetic with a 100-meter time that was slower by
1.1 seconds.


"If anyone says you can cut your leg off to be faster, I tell
you right now you are going to be slower," Pistorius said.


Two Italian International Olympic Committee members present at
Pistorius' Milan appearance, Ottavio Cinquanta and Franco Carraro,
said the IOC had no jurisdiction in the dispute and it was up to
the governing body to issue technical standards.


Carraro, however, said current rules were written with
able-bodied athletes in mind and did not take into account a
"phenomenon" like Pistorius.


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.


Pistorius has set world records in the 100, 200 and 400 meters
in Paralympic events. He finished second in the 400 meters at the
South African national championships last year against able-bodied
runners.