Amputee Pistorius barred from Beijing Games

LONDON Mon Jan 14, 2008 10:15am EST

Oscar Pistorius of South Africa runs during the British Grand Prix athletics meet at the Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield, northern England July 15, 2007. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

Oscar Pistorius of South Africa runs during the British Grand Prix athletics meet at the Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield, northern England July 15, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Eddie Keogh

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LONDON (Reuters) - South African double amputee Oscar Pistorius, who runs with carbon fiber blades attached to his legs, will not be allowed to compete at this year's Beijing Olympics.

A report commissioned by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) released on Monday concluded that the prosthetics used by Pistorius gave him a significant advantage over able-bodied runners.

Last year, the IAAF amended its rules to ban the use of any technical device incorporating springs, wheels "or any other element that provides the user with an advantage over another athlete not using such a device".

The IAAF's ruling council agreed that Pistorius should not be allowed to run in Beijing or in any other meeting sanctioned by the world governing body.

Pistorius's manager Peet van Zyl told Reuters the athlete would appeal against the decision.

"We are obviously very disappointed with the IAAF decision and we need to talk with them and our legal advisors about how we progress, what we need to do to appeal in terms of the IAAF regulations," Van Zyl said.

A study, carried out by Professor Peter Bruggeman at the German Sport University in Cologne, compared Pistorius with five able-bodied athletes of similar ability.

"Pistorius was able to run with his prosthetic blades at the same speed as the able-bodied sprinters with about 25 percent less energy expenditure," the report concluded.

FURTHER TESTS

The report said the returned energy from the prosthetic blades, known as "cheetahs", was close to three times higher than the ankle joint.

"The mechanical advantage of the blade in relation to the healthy ankle joint of an able-bodied athlete is higher than 30 percent," it added.

"It is evident that an athlete using the Cheetah prosthetic is able to run at the same speed as able bodied athletes with lower energy consumption."

Van Zyl said Bruggeman's study had not considered enough factors.

"We have circulated the report from Bruggeman to various experts in the United States and they have told us it did not take enough variables into consideration when deciding whether the prosthetics gave Oscar a significant advantage," he said.

"We believe more tests need to be done, and the onus is on us to prove that."

Last July Pistorius ran in the 400 B race at the Golden Gala in Rome, finishing second. Two days later he finished last in wet conditions in Sheffield, Britain, and was then disqualified for running out of his lane.

Pistorius, whose legs were amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old because he was born without fibulas, won a gold and bronze at the 2004 Athens Paralympics.

(Additional reporting by Ken Borland in Johannesburg; Editing by Justin Palmer)

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