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

Updated: January 28, 2008, 11:56 AM ET
Associated Press

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.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press