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Oscar Pistorius was born without fibulas and had both legs amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old. A business student at the University of Pretoria, Pistorius runs with the aid of carbon-fibre artificial limbs and is the double amputee world record holder in the 100, 200 and 400 metres events.1
“I don’t see myself as disabled,” says Oscar, “There’s nothing I can’t do that able-bodied athletes can do.”2 But then the question is: do prosthetic limbs simply level the ground for Pistorius—“Blade-runner”, compensating for his disability, or do they give him an unacceptable advantage? As Jeré Longman nicely put it: is he disabled, or too-abled?3
Athletics’ world governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), shares the latter opinion, and assigned to German Professor Brüggemann the task of monitoring Oscar’s performances and analysing the information. According to his study, Pistorius’ limbs use 25% less energy than able-bodied athletes to run at the same speed.4 On the strength of these findings, on 14 January 2008 the IAAF ruled …
Competing interests: None declared.
↵i Note added in proof: On 16 July 2008, Pistorius failed in his final bid to qualify at a meeting in Lucerne, Switzerland. On 18 July 2008, Athletics South Africa announced that he would not be selected for the relay team, as four other runners had faster times. Oscar will still compete in Beijing 2008 in the Paralympic Games, and will focus on qualifying for the 2012 Olympics in London.