Blade Runner Coming to Beijing?

A few months back, I brought you the story of Oscar Pistorius, a double amputee who dreamed of running in the Olympics but was rejected by the IAAF, which governs track and field. Well, Pistorius took his case to an arbitration panel that ruled in his favor. That means Pistorius and his blades could be lined up alongside athletes with 2 legs at this year's Games.

There's still a major hurdle in that Pistorius must qualify for the team, which would require him shaving down his time by 4 tenths of a second. Despite how little that sounds like, for him to actually achieve that would be very incredible and is nearly impossible. However, there is also the possibility that the South African track and field heads could select him for the relay team, which is picked and doesn't require qualifying. Doing so would be condemning the South African team to defeat, but as they aren't expected to be medal contenders to begin with, it could make them (ie Pistorius) the story of this year's Olympics.

One of the greatest concerns was about the precedent this sets as prosthetic legs, unlike real ones, can only improve with time as science gets more advanced. However, as a lawyer, I have a lot of respect for the Court of Arbitration for Sport's decision. The decision applies solely to Pistorius and the prosthetics that he plans to don in Beijing, a new assessment would have to be done on another athlete or if Pistorius changes legs.

If you were the South African track and field heads, what would you do? Choose Pistorius over a more "deserving" athlete? It's hard to say Pistorius isn't deserving, but at the same time, he will be able to run (and most likely win gold) in the Paralympics, the person who he will be replacing on the relay team wouldn't have such a shot. If he can qualify, then the argument is moot, but as it looks like he won't be able to, its a tough decision.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm so attracted to the guy I just can't be unbiased, but I'd say he's extremely deserving, and should be ghettoized to the paralympics.