Oscar Pistorius has apologized for an outburst after losing the 200m final in the Paralympic Games last week — accusing Brazil’s Alan Fonteles Cardoso Oliveira of securing an advantage by “blades” that were slightly longer and more springy. It is a controversy that reignited questions of whether Pistorius should have been allowed to run in the Olympics.
Pistorius came in second just behind Alan Fonteles Cardoso Oliveira, who won in 21.45 seconds. Pistorius immediately protested, saying “we aren’t racing a fair race.” He filed a challenge based on the length of his opponents running blades. The longer blades used by Oliveria are only approved for the Paralympic games and not approved use by the IAAF, the sport’s governing body. Pistorius could not use the longer blades and qualify for the regular Olympics.
Pistorius made many of the arguments raised by those who opposed his entry in the Olympics:
“He’s never run a 21 second race before. That’s fact. He was running high 23s less than a year ago so you just need to look at the facts behind it. I brought it up with the IPC but nothing’s been done about it. I believe in the fairness in sport and I believe in running on the right length . . . I’ve never seen a guy come back from eight metres on the 100 metre mark and overtake me on the finish line.”
However, Oliviera noted “I am below the maximum length of blades I could have been,” he pointed out. “I don’t know who he is picking a fight with. It is not about two blades, it is about training.”
While few people question Pistorius’ extraordinary achievements as an athlete, but there remains the question of whether the Olympic Committee made a critical mistake in losing the bright line rule that athletes cannot use any type of prosthetic device. Since Pistorius was also running in the Paralympics, there remains the question of the distinction if athletes can use prosthetics to run in either or both. What do you think?