LONDON - South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius is to meet the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) after he lost his first T44 200m race in nine years and said the length of his rivals’ carbon fibre blades was unfair.
The 25-year-old runner, the first double-amputee to run at the Olympics and the most high-profile athlete at the London Paralympics, hit out after he was beaten on the line on Sunday night by Brazil’s Alan Oliveira. Pistorius, who runs on J-shaped “Cheetah” prostheses, complained in a television interview that his fellow competitors, including Oliveira, were “a lot taller” and was unable to compete with their stride length. He added that he had raised the issue with the IPC but it had fallen “on deaf ears”. His complaint came amid lingering questions about whether carbon fibre blades give amputee runners an advantage and follows his successful challenge of a ruling that his own blades were unfair to non-disabled athletes.
IPC media and communications director Craig Spence revealed that Pistorius had phoned him directly six weeks ago about the blade length of his competitors but had told him that there were no infringements. He attributed Pistorius’ comments to the disappointment of losing his first 200m race in nine years and said they were “more than willing” to hear his concerns “in a less hostile environment” than a packed Olympic Stadium. “Since 2010 we have had rules in place whereby in international competition we measure athletes in the call room prior to a race,” Spence told a news conference.
“Prior to Sunday’s race, we measured the blades of all eight athletes in the call room and this was done by an international classifier. They were measured, we had the signature of the classifier and all eight were legitimate to race,” added Spence. IPC regulations stipulate that maximum length of prostheses for amputee athletes in T42 (above-the-knee), T43 (double below-the-knee) and T44 (single leg below-the knee) track races and they have to be proportionate. Upper limits for artificial leg lengths are calculated using a mathematical formula based on the length of an athlete’s arm span as well as the distance from their sternum (chest) to the tip of the affected limb or limbs.