Despite these results, the man has no calves. Able bodied runners rely not only on the energy storing properties of the foot, but the energy producing properties of muscle, which Pistorius does not have. I say, let him run! What do you think?
From the Times of London:
Oscar Pistorius, the double amputee world record-holder at 100 metres, 200 metres and 400 metres, is almost certain to have his dream of competing at the Beijing Olympic Games shattered in the next few days. Professor Peter Brüggemann, the scientist in Cologne who has conducted tests on the South African at the behest of the IAAF, told a German newspaper two weeks ago that Pistorius’s curved carbon fibre blades give him a “considerable advantage” over his able-bodied rivals.
According to the report in Die Welt, the German newspaper, Brüggemann confessed to being surprised by the unequivocal nature of the results. “The difference is several percentage points and I did not think the findings would be so clear,” he said. “The prosthetics return 90 per cent of the impact energy compared to the 60 per cent of the human foot.”
The IAAF, which stated at the outset that it would not sanction Pistorius’s participation in able-bodied events if the tests showed that his blades gave him a material advantage, is expected to make its ruling on January 10.
Many of Pistorius’s fans and a surprising number of pundits have responded to Brüggemann’s comments by urging the IAAF to ignore its own criteria and allow Pistorius to compete regardless. They claim that Pistorius has achieved a miracle by getting this far with amputated legs and that any bar on his participation in the Olympics would be mean-spirited. They argue that their stance has humanity, empathy and even morality on its side. In doing so they confuse these noble sentiments with something both demeaning and pernicious.
Giving the South African the green light under such circumstances would not only be an insult to Pistorius but an assault on the principles of Paralympism. Disability sport came into existence precisely so that men and women with handicaps could compete with each other on a level playing field.
Categories of disability were created to safeguard this philosophy. So, how can it be argued that Pistorius should be allowed to compete despite having a measurable anatomical advantage over his able-bodied competitors? The ramifications hardly need stating. Why not allow wheelchair athletes to compete and win - as they undoubtedly would - in able-bodied marathon events? Why not allow amputees with motorised limbs into the Olympic Games? We would quickly end up with a technological free-for-all no less damaging to the integrity of sport than if we allowed carte blanche in the use of performance-enhancing narcotics.
I spent much of my early table tennis career practising with John Jenkins, the leading wheelchair player of the era. No quarter was asked, none given. When the opportunity arose I would deliberately angle the ball to exploit Jenkins’s lack of reach and, on occasions, he would lean so far to get bat on ball that his chair would topple over, sending him to the ground with a deafening crash. Seconds later he would be up again, face gritted, lips smiling grimly, his eyes dancing with the joy of competition.
One time my father happened to be watching us practise and, seeing my tactics, berated me for a lack of sportsmanship. Jenkins eyed my father closely, put a hand on his elbow and told him that going easy on him would be the most serious violation of sportsmanship and the grossest possible insult. “I would rather not play than experience that,” he said. Jenkins understood, as so many of Pistorius’s apologists do not, that giving an artificial advantage to disabled athletes springs from the misguided pity that is the scourge of their lives.
I spent two days with Pistorius in South Africa this year and, like many who have made his acquaintance, I left with as much admiration for his generous personality as for his athletic prowess. He is a young man with a huge amount to offer the sporting world even if he is “confined” to the disabled events in which he has made his name and growing fortune.
On hearing the comments of Brüggemann, Pistorius vowed to get independent corroboration of the results. He is right to want to ensure that the science governing his future is robust. If it can be shown that Pistorius does not have the advantage Brüggemann claims, then the South African should be allowed to compete against the able-bodied.
If not, he has no business competing at the Olympic Games. And one suspects that, once he has come to terms with his initial disappointment, Pistorius will embrace that verdict wholeheartedly.