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Amputee Sprinter Wins Olympic Appeal to Compete

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the cyborg-olympics dept.

Medicine 366

Dr. Eggman writes "Oscar Pistorius, a 21-year-old South African double-amputee sprinter, has won his appeal filed with the Court of Arbitration for Sport. This overturns a ban imposed by the International Association of Athletics Federations, and allows Mr. Pistorius the chance to compete against other able-bodied athletes for a chance at a place on the South African team for the Beijing Olympics. He currently holds the 400-meter Paralympic world sprinting record, but must improve on his time by 1.01 seconds to meet the Olympic qualification standard. However, even if Pistorius fails to get the qualifying time, South African selectors could add Oscar to the Olympic 1,600-meter relay squad."

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366 comments

How unfair... (5, Insightful)

HetMes (1074585) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441386)

...to all athletes that have to drag their lower legs at each step, and not having the benefit of springlike limbs.

Re:How unfair... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23441468)

Call me sentimental, but I tend to think that the inspirational value -- to everyone, not just aspiring legless athletes -- of letting this fellow compete trumps any concerns over fairness.

In any case, it matters not at all to me and I'm content to let the Olympic bureaucrats make whatever decision they see fit.

inspiration v. tech (5, Insightful)

filthpickle (1199927) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441858)

the issue isn't this guy.....the issue is the precedent it sets. /. should be completely onboard with the olympic committe. In 50 years we WILL have cyborg legs....should that be allowed in the olympics?

I want a separate olympics.......an entertain me monkey olympics.

Re:How unfair... (5, Insightful)

vertigoCiel (1070374) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441492)

If they think he has an unfair advantage, why don't they get their legs amputated, too?

Re:How unfair... (5, Insightful)

Hankapobe (1290722) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441562)

If they think he has an unfair advantage, why don't they get their legs amputated, too?

If this guy takes home a gold and considering how competitive some folks are, it wouldn't surprise me if elite athletes start getting into "accidents" and having these put on them.

Re:How unfair... (3, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441640)

You are most correct. There are people who would give up their legs to become faster runners. This is setting up a very bad precedent.

If doping is bad, this is bad too. If he could somehow run without his devices or could substitute a non-springy prosthesis, then it would be okay again. But as it stands, there will be those who are obsessive enough to follow in his prosthetic footsteps.

Re:How unfair... (2, Informative)

yesteraeon (872571) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441768)

Two points:
1)I don't think we can give too much credence to what we think stupid/crazy people will do in response to a certain policy. Personally, I'd be fine if amputees have a shot at competing in the Olympics and the cost is a few whack jobs cutting off their legs. I'd rather not see anyone lose their legs. But better that than deny these tremendous athletes the chance to compete in the world's most prestigious sporting event (despite having the technology to allow them to do it!).
2)If losing your legs and having prostheses put in is such an advantage how come this guy is over a second slower than the standard to even qualify for the Olympics?

Re:How unfair... (0)

EL_mal0 (777947) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441864)

2)If losing your legs and having prostheses put in is such an advantage how come this guy is over a second slower than the standard to even qualify for the Olympics?

Because he isn't a good enough athelete to qualify for the Olympics. If he didn't have the mechanical advantage of artificial legs, he probably would be much more than a second too slow.

Re:How unfair... (4, Insightful)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441750)

If this guy takes home a gold...it wouldn't surprise me if elite athletes start getting into "accidents" and having these put on them.

I don't think it is likely to become an issue. From the summary: "He ... must improve on his time by 1.01 seconds to meet the Olympic qualification standard."

So if I understand correctly, he has to go 1.01 seconds faster than the best he has already done to meet the minimum standard that other Olympic sprinters need to meet in order to race at the Olympics.

Not to knock him -- it's very cool to overcome a disability and compete at the Olympics -- but it doesn't sound like he will be a top contender in the races; it sounds more like he just wants to participate in the Olympic races. In any case, I wish him the best!

Re:How unfair... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23442092)

The problem is the precedent it sets. Perhaps this guy isn't a near olypmic quality sprinter, but his artificial leg gives him a boost to the point where he's even close. If so... on what grounds do you refuse the guy who was already going to break the record and then gets one of these and uses it to go even *faster?*

Perhaps this prosthetic doesn't give the guy an advantage... but mechanically it's pretty clear there *are* such prosthetics, and I rather suspect this is one.

I mean... imagine someone has a medical condition that prevents them from growing significant muscles. Now imagine that this person could overcome this physical disability by using steroids. Should he be allowed to compete in olympic weight lifting competitions where steroids are banned?

It's pretty clear that a normal athlete with a spring attached to their foot wouldn't be allowed... We have the special olypmics for a reason. I'm sure this guy can win there, and wish him luck in that... but not in the normal olympics.

dun nun nun nun nun.. (1)

Mage Powers (607708) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441608)

If they think he has an unfair advantage, why don't they get their legs amputated, too?
so would you trade your legs for robotic jet legs?

Re:dun nun nun nun nun.. (1)

OECD (639690) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441816)

Remember where you are. I think it's safe to say that a *lot* of people around here would. Myself, I'm going to get a souped-up golf cart and cite Casey Martin [nytimes.com] as a precedent.

Re:How unfair... (5, Informative)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441680)

If they think he has an unfair advantage, why don't they get their legs amputated, too?

It's not too much of a stretch. Apparently in baseball there's something called Tommy John surgery [everything2.com], where a ligament in the elbow is replaced by a (stronger) ligament from the wrist. It was originally intended to deal with injuries, although after pitchers found that their performance was better than it was before the injury some healthy players have become interested in getting the surgery performed.

Re:How unfair... (1)

Gman14msu (993012) | more than 5 years ago | (#23442056)

Just to emphasize the fact that players have only become interested. No one goes and gets Tommy John surgery without needing it. Many people claim that it makes the arm stronger in the long run. But it's only done after serious elbow injury. Not to mention the rehab time for the injury is 12-18 months. That's a lot of baseball to miss for optional surgery!

Re:How unfair... (2, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441694)

If they think he has an unfair advantage, why don't they get their legs amputated, too?

What if they do? What if it that becomes what it takes to win? The olympics is already a freakshow... but it could descend much much further... we could attach flipper feet to swimmers, and implant gills designed to breath in chlorinated pools...

At what point do we draw the line?

And if we don't draw a line and let the olympics devolve into a league for pharma-cyborg-supermen, can we start up a new 'new olympics' for natural human beings?? Because I'd find that more interesting.

Re:How unfair... (1)

hosecoat (877680) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441766)

If they think steroids create an unfair advantage, why don't they take steroids, too?

Re:How unfair... (1, Insightful)

theantipop (803016) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441526)

...to all athletes that have to drag their lower legs at each step, and not having the benefit of springlike limbs.
What, you don't have an ankle?

Re:How unfair... (1)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441874)

You'll notice, no one with an amputation at the ankle has managed to compete on a close to competetive level.

Which is a pretty clear indicator the kinetic energy store of a giant freaking spring for a leg adds something.

Springlike limb != springlike limb (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441936)

The spring in a natural human ankle is not nearly as efficient as the spring in a roo's ankle or the spring in this athlete's ankle.

Re:How unfair... (2, Interesting)

icegreentea (974342) | more than 5 years ago | (#23442010)

You have to flex your ankle to use them as springs. He doesn't. If that doesn't convince you, consider this. When you squat up and down, your legs essentially work like springs. Squat up and down. You'll get tired around 20-30 reps. Now imagine an actual spring. It does not get tired.

Re:How unfair... (4, Insightful)

NoobixCube (1133473) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441600)

How is that unfair? He holds the Paralympic world record for the 400m, and he STILL has to improve on that by 1.01 seconds to meet qualification standard. I'm by no means an athlete, but I know that professional sprinters and swimmers find it so hard to improve on their own personal bests. Each second is a hardly won battle in it's self. I think he has a hard challenge ahead of him to be selected, and will still probably on place in an average middle position at the Olympics.

Re:How unfair... (1)

neoform (551705) | more than 5 years ago | (#23442014)

Just because he might not set a new record, doesn't mean there wont be others like him who are faster and given an advantage by their prosthetic legs. The Olympics are supposed to be about athletes competing on a fair playing field. He should be competing in an entirely different category against others with comparable abilities.

What is big an blue... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23441834)

Q: What is big and blue and sits on my front porch?

A: My nigger and I will paint him any color I want!

Aperture Science is branching out, I see (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23441388)

Since they can't compete with Black Mesa, now they're in the sporting equipment business?

Look out Nike.

I guess the only thing I can say is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23441486)

This is a triumph!

Re:Aperture Science is branching out, I see (1)

TypoNAM (695420) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441556)

There might be cake involved I hear too..

Wait, wasn't cake a lie the last time?

And this is fair HOW??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23441394)

Jeez, why don't we just give the guy a jet pack and let him fly to the finish line?

Cyborg Olympics (5, Funny)

neomunk (913773) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441400)

Sweet. Now I'm gonna go get my left arm hacked off and get a harpoon launcher installed for the javelin throw.

Or, to put it in a way slashdot understands...

1: Get amputation(s).
2: Get prosthetics with a mechanical advantage over mere flesh.
3: ???
4: Profit!

Re:Cyborg Olympics (2)

Hankapobe (1290722) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441528)

Sweet. Now I'm gonna go get my left arm hacked off and get a harpoon launcher installed for the javelin throw. Or, to put it in a way slashdot understands... 1: Get amputation(s). 2: Get prosthetics with a mechanical advantage over mere flesh. 3: ??? 4: Profit!

I'm getting a chainsaw on mine!

While you two losers are duking it out... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23441584)

I'll have a Sybian installed on mine.

Re:While you two losers are duking it out... (1)

Hankapobe (1290722) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441632)

I'll have a Sybian installed on mine.

If you're a chick - who needs men!

If you're a dude: I guess you could have any woman you want.

Re:Cyborg Olympics (1)

Joe Tie. (567096) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441622)

I'm getting the discarded arm from one of you guys on mine! I will be known as "Mr. Two Arms", and fight crime when I'm not busy winning the olympics.

Re:Cyborg Olympics (1)

nickname29 (1240104) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441656)

He does not get a big advantage over other athletes â" he has had huge hurdles to overcome (balance for one). Why not let him compete in the Olympics? The Olympics is supposed to take the best guy â" and not discriminate against him because he is disabled.

Why not make a special event for normal athletes at the para-Olympics (since they are at a disadvantage to non-able bodied athletes)?

Some able bodied (steroid drinking) idiot is going to claim that he is the fastest guy on earth (because he won at the Olympics) â" yet a disabled person best him at that.

Are their any disabled athletic (or other sport) personalities that are popular in the public eye (and huge role models)? I would guess that you would not be able to name one â" this will be the perfect opportunity to bring disabled people into the public arena.

Wouldnâ(TM)t it be cool if a disabled person is the new face of Coke or Adidas or one of those products? Have you ever seen a disabled sport star used in an advertisement?

Re:Cyborg Olympics (2, Interesting)

neomunk (913773) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441706)

You guessed wrong: Lance Armstrong.

But back on topic, this guy DOES enjoy a measurable mechanical advantage over his flesh and blood competitors. Yes, he had extra work to do to be able to use the devices, but by the same token we don't let pole vaulters (with pole) in the high-jump.

Re:Cyborg Olympics (1)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441992)

Technically, a harpoon launcher allows you to use an external power source (compressed air, explosive, etc.) while his legs don't directly add power to the equation.

What they do however is take an inherrently inefficient task (the loss of kinetic energy from a running stride) and make it more efficient (storing that energy in a spring and then re-releasing it to power forward).

What he's doing is closer to a high jumper entering on a state of the art pogo stick.

Of course, I think it's a brilliant idea. I'm trying out for the marathon on another form of energy transference I call "a bicycle." I'm pretty sure I can get my 26 mile time down under two hours. Never thought of myself as an Olympian but Beijing, here I come!

Doping goes to a whole new level (1)

Swizec (978239) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441402)

This sets a really nice precedence. When people with artifically created, better, limbs can compete. What's so wrong with somebody who just takes some amphetamines or something? At least they're still using human body parts ...

Once it takes robotic limbs to win olympic medals we've really taken all the fun out of competing.

Re:Doping goes to a whole new level (1)

y86 (111726) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441414)

Once it takes robotic limbs to win olympic medals we've really taken all the fun out of competing.
I would say that's up for debate. Ever watch that stupid robot battle show? Upgrades may bring some excitement into the games.

Re:Doping goes to a whole new level (1)

mathgeek13 (1287912) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441646)

Upgrades may bring some excitement into the games.
Upgrades might add excitement, but that isn't the point. The point of these games is seeing who is the best at what they do, without technology helping them along.

He's using undoped human muscles (2, Insightful)

xmark (177899) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441580)

At the same time, he's fighting against a lot of people who pretend that all the other athletes compete on a level field. Between genetics, economics, training resources, secret drugs and unethical (or illegal) techniques - and plain old luck - that myth is hopelessly naive and misleading.

As I see it, this is about strength of mind and will more than about strength of body. That's what separates the real champions from the rest. The Olympics serve to remind us what is best in us. This example would touch millions of people, far, far more than someone shaving another three hundredths of a second off the 100 meter record or whatever.

His legs were amputated. He should not be amputated from the idea he's still 100% human.

Re:He's using undoped human muscles (1)

Swizec (978239) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441762)

Whereas I agree with what you're saying, fact remains he's not 100% human ... not physically at least.

The point of the Olympics, as far as I understand, is to use only what was naturally given to you. Genetics, whereas it can help a lot, is still natural and thus any gains you get from that address are wholly you.

Artificial limbs are far more in the field of drugs and such than in the field of "natural human body" if you ask me. But yes, giving him chance to compete would inspire hope in many. Then again, everyone using drugs could just say "What? I can't put extra blood in my system and that guy doesn't even have to use real legs!?"

Re:He's using undoped human muscles (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441916)

The short counterpoint to your post is that we know running isn't the most efficient way to use the muscles. Using equipment we can make humans go much faster. We can make a non-amputated man go faster than the track world record with ease on for example a bicycle. Fair? No. Using these legs? Certainly they could make him "run" faster than any other man on earth, but it wouldn't be the same sport.

Re:Doping goes to a whole new level (2, Insightful)

danpat (119101) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441662)

Here's what's wrong with someone who "just takes some amphetamines":

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doping_at_the_Tour_de_France#Tom_Simpson_dies_in_the_Tour [wikipedia.org]

Drug taking is mostly illegal because of the seriously negative side effects of many of the performance enhancing drugs.

If drugs were allowed, I can imagine seeing "suicide winners" appearing. People prepared to push the doping so far that they'd keel over and die on the finish line. Who wants to compete with that? I like winning, but I'm not really prepared to die because I've overridden a bunch of my body's built-in self protection mechanisms.

Comparing prosthetic limbs to drug-taking doesn't really seem like comparing apples to apples, but there are some parallels. If prosthetic limbs are allowed and they become so good that only people with them can win, how many people will be prepared to "cripple" themselves to win, and is it fair on those who don't want to chop off a leg or two? I don't think it is.

Like there are categories of physical ability in the Paralympics now, and weight classes in boxing, martial sports, etc, I think that everything should just be categorised, and "able-bodied" just becomes another category. If prosthetics continue to improve, "able-bodied" might not even be the best performing (i.e. fastest) category in all sports. If you want to move into the "faster" category, sure, go ahead and chop off a leg, but you can't compete against non-prosthetic-endowed athletes any more.

Cyborg olympic (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23441432)

Although it might sound rude, but people with non-natural body part should not compete with other "able-bodied" athletes. This is almost the same as using enhancement drugs. One thing for sure, able-bodied runner could sprang their ankle. This athlete is immune to that. There are other unfair advantage(s) for this and other able-bodied athletes. He should be allowed to compete, but just not on the same ground. Maybe start another league of Olympics specially designed for amputees?

So where do you draw the line ? (5, Interesting)

erlehmann (1045500) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441534)

Artificial limbs, I see that. Now what is with someone who had laser surgery on his eyes so he/she can see better ? Would you ban that person from a shooting match ? Even if he/she still can't see better than a top athlete ? If the person can see on par ? Or better ?

In the end, the questions we should ask ourselves probably are not about fairness but about the purpose of such games.

Re:So where do you draw the line ? (4, Insightful)

megaditto (982598) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441696)

In the end, the questions we should ask ourselves probably are not about fairness but about the purpose of such games.
Main purpose: Milking the cash of pseudo-patriotic idiots.

Nailed it, didn't I? Be honest now...

Re:So where do you draw the line ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23442074)

Mod up.

I care about the Olympics ever so slightly more than I care about the WWE, but mostly because of the social and cultural upheaval it can cause to the local populace in a host city. As someone who was living in Seattle when it was announced, I was saddened to hear Vancouver got the nod for 2010. It brings back the anger of having corrupt local governments force taxpayers to pay for stadiums (such as Safeco Field) they voted against, combined with abusive use of eminent domain - if there ever is a legit use for it, combined with an infrastructure almost all ill-equipped to deal with the rush of crowds from the events, only on a much more massive scale than typically seen. Locals have to go through all of that so that a bunch of people outside of the community can make a lot of money off of it, while the local politicians get their ego stroked by publicity and good tickets to the events.

Re:So where do you draw the line ? (1)

dutchct (673848) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441748)

You could start comparing this kind of thing to automotive racing.

For example in autocross, if you want to race your car in the stock class, your car must be stock or have replacement parts of equivalent performance (a jobber part you would get at napa to replace the old broken one).

If you want to go faster and upgrade your car, you have to change to a class that allows the upgrade. You could do the same thing with upgraded human parts. Harpoon arms ftw!

Re:So where do you draw the line ? (1)

wass (72082) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441788)

That would depend on how much one's improved sight actually helps them shoot. Ie, what is the limiting factor in sharpshooting, is it sight, or the plethora of other factors that requires steadily aiming and firing a gun. Does going beyond 20/20 actually help out significantly beyond the other factors?

Re:So where do you draw the line ? (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441830)

Well, we already have the ban on drugs in sports. IMHO the line that has been drawn is quite clear - you can use enhancements outside your body like all sorts of fancy equipment and high altitude training, but the body itself must start out and be natural (I include this because there's drugs that are out of your system come competition time, but are still illegal) and during competition time you must rely on your natural body. Clearly you wouldn't let him "run" in an exoskeleton or a F1 car, why would you let him run with artificial feet? Yes, I realize that without his "feet" he got two stumps and wouldn't get anywhere, but it's not supposed to be like golf where everyone has a handicap to put them on equal footing. The 400m track competition measures unassisted running speed, otherwise it would be 400m biking or 400m skating or 400m whatever that also relies on all human force. If you run with any kind of artifical tool you should IMO be banned from the running competition. I don't really care if it's a pacemaker, if that pacemaker can make your "heart" operate faster than natural speed then that too is an advantage.

Re:So where do you draw the line ? (1)

Tingler (56229) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441918)

Now what is with someone who had laser surgery on his eyes so he/she can see better?

In your example, the person in question still has his original eyes. Using that segment of your argument, you could suggest that a person with a broken and repaired arm would no longer be eligible to compete in the Olympics. A closer example to what is proposed would be if a shooter removed their eyes and replaced them with synthetic eyes.

I don't have an answer to this debate on either side. At this time, it seems fair to let this person to compete in the Olympics. But what about the following generations of artificial body parts? Should we allow Ellen Ripley to use the exoskeleton she used in Aliens to complete in the weight lifting competition? Or should we wait until the exoskeleton is small enough to be surgically inserted into a person's body?

The Olympic Committee will have to decide what is required to establish a person as human enough to compete. They will have to decide this over and over again and it will get more difficult with each generation.

They will look back on the time of steroid use as the halcyon days of Olympic Committee debates

Re:So where do you draw the line ? (1)

icegreentea (974342) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441978)

No. But that is a false analogy. Laser eye surgery at best will not allow to see better than the human maximum, nor will it allow to see in a fundamentally different way. Pistorius' legs do. His efficiency is beyond the reach of any human, simply because he doesn't have to flex his large segments of his leg when he lands each stride. His race performance bares it out. He maintains an almost constant top speed for the entire race, something that is impossible for any human runner. His legs are BUILT for running. They are nearly impossible to balance on when walking or standing still. They are almost literally springs. This would be more like giving a shooter a scope, and adjustable laser pointer instead of laser eye surgery.

Re:So where do you draw the line ? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23442084)

Laser eye surgery doesn't fundamentally change how you see, but these prosthetics fundamentally change how he runs. What do you do when new prosthetics are developed that increase performance X%, just allow him to upgrade while the rest of the field sticks there thumbs up their asses?

Lets keep things in perspective, track and field is a sport about human performance, this ruling just introduced engineering into track and field as a major factor. I find this far more preposterous than the use of steroids, at least steroids are just hormones increasing performance through biological means and hence still 'human performance'.

And what are you trying to imply is the 'purpose of such games'? Good will, giving everybody a chance, blaah blaah? The purpose is a fair competition amongst the best the world has to offer. The keep time for a reason, the test for ban substances for a reason, the call false starts for a reason. That's right not everybody gets a chance to compete and only one gets the gold.

Re:Cyborg olympic (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23441734)

look, the man was banned from the paralympics because it was felt that the prosthetic limbs gave him too much of an unfair advantage over the disabled people, now you want to ban him from the able-bodied olympics too? What will we have next, the Pistorilympics just for him? Anyone want to host it?

Some Day (5, Funny)

KidKadaver (1099449) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441444)

Someday, we'll look back at this event, with the power of hindsight and wonder how we failed to see the Cyborg War coming.

And the medal goes to... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23441476)

...the engineering team that actually created his legs? Geez. How many body parts can I have replaced before I cease to be a full-human athlete? I guess I could just have a brain wired up with an android and qualify?
I dont like where this is going years down the road.

Deserves a chance (1, Insightful)

kernowyon (1257174) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441510)

The guy was 11 months old when his legs were amputated below the knee. Regardless of whether these J blades give him a slight edge or not (personally I am not a sports person oddly enough!), he deserves a chance to compete based on his determination if nothing else!
He is a great role model for other disabled persons in his way - just as Stephen Hawking is in his.

Re:Deserves a chance (2, Interesting)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441582)

I don't understand why he deserves a chance. My body is not physically able to compete in the Olympics either. Same goes for almost everyone in the world. It's really no big deal.

Re:Deserves a chance (1)

uniquename72 (1169497) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441752)

Agreed. My body can't naturally go as fast as even a slow Olympian, so why not let me ride my motorcycle in the race? Would it help if I were paraplegic? Could I use a trampoline for the high jump, too?

Re:Deserves a chance (1)

danpat (119101) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441702)

Ever see how many of the Paralympic events are run? Everyone is thrown into the same race, no matter what your disability. The winner, however, is judged as the person who gets closest to the world record for their category of disability.

So sure, stick him in the race with everyone else. However if an able-bodied athlete breaks the able-bodied world record, and this guy doesn't break the "two-amputated-legs" record, then he doesn't win, even if he crosses the line first.

That's why he has the paralympics. (1)

CatOne (655161) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441708)

Where he can compete with other people with disabilities and artificial limbs.

Next thing you know. Steve Austin will be competing. And people will be having legs removed so they can compete on their 'bionic' ones. If the artificial ones prove to be faster than the natural ones, you can bet that some people will in fact go that far in the name of competition.

Shame on South Africa (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23441514)

Shame on South Africa, and shame on any other nation that allows its citizen to set foot in China, or allows them to return after having done so.

PDF of full decision (4, Informative)

wanax (46819) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441516)

can be found here. [tas-cas.org]

I personally think this is the right decision. While obviously there is a line where replacement turns into enhancement, unless it's clearly crossed I'm in favor of letting everybody who has the ability compete. The IAAF did not show that there was enhancement (and even so, his best 400m time of 46.56s is over a second off the Olympic qualifying time of 45.55s).

My favorite part, where the panel finds that the IAAF biased the testing against him, and then told the press they were DQ'ing him before voting on it is here:

60. At this stage, in the Panel's view, the process began to go "off the rails". The correspondence between the IAAF nad Prof. Bruggemann shos that his instructions were to carry out the testing only when Mr Pistorius was running in a straight line after the acceleration phase. By the time that the IAAF commissioned the Cologne tests it was known that this was the part of the race in which Mr Pistorius usually ran at his fastest.

61. [...] IAAF's officials must have known that, by excluding the start and the acceleration phase, the results would create a distorted view of Mr Pistorius' advantages and/or disadvantages. [...]

62. The stori is not enhances by the fact that Dr. Robert Gailey, the scientist nominated by Mr Pistorius [...] was effectively "frozen out" to such an extent that he declined to attend the Cologne tests. He was informed that he would be allowed to attend only as an observer, with no input on the testing protocol or on the analysis.

68. The impression of prejudgement is also enhanced by the fact that Dr. Locatelli and other IAAF officials told the press before the vote was taken that Mr Pistorius would be banned from IAAF sanctioned events.

70. In the Panel's view, the manned in which the IAAF hendled the situation of MR Pistorius in the period from July 2007 to January 2008 fell short of the high standards that the international sporting community is entitield to expect from a federation such as the IAAF.

Re:PDF of full decision (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441610)

The IAAF did not show that there was enhancement (and even so, his best 400m time of 46.56s is over a second off the Olympic qualifying time of 45.55s).
Wow, so by that logic I could enter on a moped and, so long as I don't hammer the throttle during qualifying, that would be ok.

Re:PDF of full decision (1)

wanax (46819) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441836)

I think this article [go.com] sums up my opinion fairly well. But using a moped is clearly enhancement. The IAAF didn't show that these particular legs allow superior overall biomechanics to a natural leg. But my main point is that this needs to be regulated, rather than banned. This is because there are already many border-line cases. Is this really very different from a runner with a titanium rod in their leg? Or with Speedo's new swimsuit that's causing controversy? What about Tiger Woods' LASIK surgery? Or Floyd Landis' artifical hip?

There are already many things that are currently allowed which are only different from these legs in degree, rather than kind. And that's why this guy should be able to compete.

this is ridiculous (4, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441538)

clearly these artificial limbs store kinetic energy in a radically different way. the biomechanics are obviously different. he's using different muscle groups. watch a video of him, and he clearly starts off slower than everyone else, and then speeds up a lot faster than everyone else: he's running on springs

god bless the guy, he's a phenomenal athlete. but he shouldn't be allowed to compete with runners with real feet. he's playing checkers when everyone else is playing blackjack. what he is doing is just not the same sport as what the other guys on the track are doing. and so he shouldn't compete with them. not because he doesn't deserve to just because he doesn't have feet, but simply because he's playing a different biomechanical game

Re:this is ridiculous (1)

justleavealonemmmkay (1207142) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441728)

How do they store KINETIC energy ? Is there a flywheel involved ?

Re:this is ridiculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23441868)

They store it as potential energy, when the device is flexed.

Re:this is ridiculous (4, Informative)

icegreentea (974342) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441940)

Normally when running, you tense up certain muscles just before foot strike, so your muscles acts like a spring to release part of that energy afterward. Normally, this means that you get tired cause your muscles are constantly in use (active energy storage). His legs are so set up so that they passively store this energy. He does not need put any effort into that part of the stride.

Not only that, the leg below the knee's importance in sprinting is relatively minor. Aside that the ankle/calf acting as an active shock absorber, nearly all the leg's energy is spent in the upper leg to drive the entire leg forward. His legs are considerably lighter than real human legs, and very much does make him run completely different.

Pistorius really does run differently. Because of the way his legs are constructed, his maximal running speed may never reach that of an unamputated human being, but his efficiency is beyond anything anyone else can achieve. He's running speed (measured in 10m segments) is far more consistent then any other runner, because he can maintain his full speed for much longer and with relatively less effort than anyone else.

This is not to say that he is an amazing athlete. He is. He has overcome incredible challenges, and he deserves recognition. But he does not belong in the Olympics the way that they are formulated right now. His artificial allow him to achieve feats of efficiency that simply cannot be reached with any human body no matter how well born and trained. I feel that many are letting themselves being clouded by the emotional aspect of this issue, and ignoring that this would be like letting someone on rollarblades grafted onto their feet compete in a standard track event.

Re:this is ridiculous (1)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441754)

It seems to me the spirit of the Olympic games is to invite friendly competition between nations, not to foster a giant "my country is better than yours" competition. To me, that means that it need not be so strictly regulated. I think the practice of including any able-bodied athelete, as defined as being as capable as any other athelete of their field, is more true to real spirit of inclusion than that if banning any athelete who might have an advantage over, or disadvantage against, any other opponent. In short, I see it as South Africa's right to choose whom they wish to include in their team. If that includes men and women with superior (or inferior, as I remind you he still has not met the qualifying time for the 400-meter) abilities, either due to nature or technology, then so be it.

ok (-1, Flamebait)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441886)

then i want to compete on the running track with a bicycle

or, i want to compete right after i blood dope

and if you say i shouldn't with either of those, well then you just don't embrace the concept of friendly competition

i'll tell you what: you deliver that little cotton candy missive of yours above to any runner competing in the olympics and see how far you get, okay?

meanwhile, here's a small pin to pop your airheaded opinion: you can't have friendly competition without fair competition

work it out and get back to us

For long distance it can be an advantage (2, Interesting)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441540)

For some long distance events they've banned amputees because they have an advantage over normal runners. How long before sprinters gain an advantage as well?

Will athletes start hacking their own legs off to get ahead?

Re:For long distance it can be an advantage (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23441634)

Will athletes start hacking their own legs off to get ahead?

Or---stranger still---will they start hacking their own heads off to get a leg?

Re:For long distance it can be an advantage (2, Interesting)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | more than 5 years ago | (#23442032)

That's nothing.

In Hawaii, canoe racing is a big sport. Sport isn't even the right term. Fierce competition is more suitable. And there are Men's and Women's canoe clubs, the men's being slightly faster as usual. Well, one of the women's canoe clubs had a member who used to be a man. "She" had the operation and took the hormones, and legally was now a woman. Oh, the fit other clubs had over that situation, because she had a man's greater muscle mass and all that. Her club defended having her because legally she was a she, and besides all the hormones and therapy she was on actually made her less able to compete evenly because those drugs mess up the body to an extent, so they said.

But the biggest concern that the oversight board had was that, in the future, if a man was not quite able to compete with other men, he might elect to go this route and join a women's club. That way he, or she, would be among the top athletes in her sport.

Now I ask you, would you cut off your legs to compete in the Olympics, mabye even be guaranteed the gold medal? If the answer is yes, would you instead be willing to cut off other appendages and win the gold medal in the women's division of the same sport?

for those who don't rtfa: it's the jock steve mann (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23441554)

The /. article summary text should really specify that the man is a cyborg. Or change the title to "Augmented Amputee Sprinter..." Because reading the text as-is, I was about to say---if Hopalong Cassidy wants to "roll" with the big boys, why not let him?

He won't get busted for steroid use (1)

bobwrit (1232148) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441588)

He dosen't need 'em , he can just hire a machanic or change his legs out.

sticky (1)

cynagh0st (1287842) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441618)

Is there any way to objectively determine his competitive equity with other athletes? It seems to me that they are "jurisdictionally," out of their league.

I know the article says they considered this, but his blood doesn't need to travel to his legs to service oxygen to his muscles. Risk of ankle spraining: zero. Heighth and weight determined by length and bulk of the prosthetics. Other than not having legs he owns and defines any disadvantages he has. If something hurts he should be able to modify it. If he cant get traction he can revise the rubber contact spots.

Why do I get the feeling that this is a result of:

1. Lawyers preying on human emotion, empathy and sympathy.

2. The stereotypes associated with the special Olympics.

3.The "winning a battle to win it," for disabled people.

Re:sticky (1)

Nullav (1053766) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441730)

Don't forget that you can't feel a prosthetic, which makes it that much harder to coordinate. As for your comment on traction, what do you think we wear shoes for?

Metro Olympics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23441638)

Instead of having olympic teams be defined by country, why not have each "Metropolis" compete against each other?

Then, instead of having countries like the U.S. and China dominate everything, you would suddenly have a completely different character to every sport.

Imagine an event where there is one contestant each from Omaha, Ongole, Osaka, Ordu, Orlando, Ottawa, Oslo, Ocala, Oued, and Oudtshoom.

Sorta like metagovernment [metagovernment.org] for the Olympics. :)

turnabout is fair play. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23441654)

see that picture? [google.com]

no reason a person with two full legs couldn't bend them at the knees to use a contraption like his. Are you going to allow runners to do that, Olympic Committee?

No? Why not?

Damn amputees! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23441712)

It's not enough that he gets all the primo parking spaces... now he wants to show up us able-bodied guys in the Olympics too?!? I say we gang up on him and break his legs... oh, wait...

what advantage? (1)

Yurka (468420) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441780)

His personal best is still more than a second behind the qualifying time for the Olympics.

That's fine... (5, Insightful)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441846)

...if they're letting regular athletes compete in the disabled categories as well. After all, what's good for the goose...

Re:That's fine... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23442060)

We're too scared to suffer the same outcome as Cartman had :)

run with what ya brung. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23441896)

that's the only way to be fair.

It should be simple (1)

secondbase (870665) | more than 5 years ago | (#23441976)

If other athletes can compete using the same springy devices strapped to their calves, then this should be allowed, otherwise not.

If this truly is at best neutral, or a disadvantage for this person, then there's no reason not to allow anyone who desires to put on a gadget of this sort, and use them instead of sneakers.

I believe the outcome would show that there's a significant advantage.

Specialized limbs not fair. (1)

uncqual (836337) | more than 5 years ago | (#23442042)

This seems like a very bad precedent.

Now, or in the near future, scientists and engineers may well be able to build an artificial limb with better performance characteristics than a natural limb. This is especially true in the case of a specialized application -- for example, sprinting in a straight line on a level surface for 100 meters as opposed to a somewhat more general application like basketball with more varied forces and requirements.

To determine if each such limb gives an "unfair" advantage to an athlete will move sports competition from the realm of the field almost entirely into the realm of the lab and courtroom. The decisions from such cases are not going to be widely accepted and will be very controversial. Neither of these will be "good" for the sport.

It's likely that some people can't imagine an amputee competing effectively with the current generation of performance enhancing limbs so are comfortable with this particular case. However, I suspect that the response would be somewhat different if/when artificial limb development matures to the point that all the world sprinting records are held by a handful of amputees who all use performance enhancing limbs. (Since this is /., I must bring up the vision of the patents for the design of the limbs being owned by IP firms who grant the right to use the limbs in exchange for large cut of the endorsement deals the "enhanced" athletes land.) Once someone with such limbs begins setting records, the protests will be loud and they will either be banned or a new category of records ("Unenhanced Athletes") for those without assists and no one will care about the "Enhanced Athlete" records -- which takes us back to where we are now with separate records for disabled vs. non-disabled athletes. This will be a cruel trick on those amputees who worked hard thinking they could aspire to "real" world records.

From an "fairness" standpoint, it seems unfair to allow artificial limbs in sports such as running. The unenhanced athlete can't swap from her "100 meter" legs to her "400 meter" legs between races. The unenhanced athlete can't simply swap in a new leg when she damages one. The unenhanced athlete can't pick the "cold weather" legs vs. the "warm weather" legs depending on the weather at the meet. The unenhanced athlete can't shed the parts of her natural legs which are not needed (and in the way) for short sprints but useful for everyday things like walking on sloped surfaces or climbing stairs.

Perhaps we will need a sort of "Turing Test" before accepting enhanced limbs in general competition -- they must be indistinguishable from natural limbs to a skilled tester.
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