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Prosthetic-Limbed Runner Disqualified from Olympic Games

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the street-sams-are-right-around-the-corner dept.

Robotics 509

contraba55 wrote with a link to an Engadget story on a sign of the postmodern times. Oscar Pistorius, a world-class sprinter, has been denied a shot at participating in the Olympics this year. He's a double-amputee, but he's not out because of his handicap; he's disqualified because he's faster than most sprinters. "The runner — who uses carbon-fiber, prosthetic feet — was reviewed by the International Association of Athletics Federations (or IAAF), a review which found the combination of man and machine to be too much for its purely human competitors. According to the IAAF report, the 'mechanical advantage of the blade in relation to the healthy ankle joint of an able bodied athlete is higher than 30-percent.' Additionally, Pistorius uses 25-percent less energy than average runners due to the artificial limbs, therefore giving him an unfair advantage on the track."

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509 comments

man... (5, Funny)

jtroutman (121577) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086312)

I bet he's kicking himself now

Re:man... (5, Funny)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086368)

I hope the enforce fake boobs on figure skaters as well... Fix that polar inertia advantage once and for all!

Re:man... (2, Funny)

EggyToast (858951) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086956)

It makes sense -- if you're in figure skating, you should have a figure.

Re:man... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22086498)

Yeah, the committee really cut his legs out from under him.

Re:man... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22086694)

Yeah, but wait until the shoe is on the other foot, and hear ye shitty committee whine about "fair".

I never thought I'd see the day ... (3, Interesting)

Buran (150348) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086330)

This is the first time I've heard of a handicapped person being discriminated against because they're too good. As someone who's hard of hearing, I find 99% of bias against me coming from the fact that I'm not good enough.

Re:I never thought I'd see the day ... (5, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086382)

Well, it's not really "him" that's disqualified. I'm sure he's welcome to compete without the spring-legs. I don't say that to be glib, but heck, even a bicycle could be called an extension of yourself if you strapped it on. You have to draw the line.

Re:I never thought I'd see the day ... (4, Interesting)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086784)

I've fancied trying some of those spring legs for a while. They aren't just for amputees. The US military are, if I recall correctly, investigating this technology (in computer assisted form) for groundpounders (oh dear, the B5 fandom is showing).

I can see why he'd be disqualified, although it must be sad for him. Surely he must have realised the chances were slim though, those things are far too good.

Re:I never thought I'd see the day ... (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086868)

Sure, it sucks.
However, he'll probably end up with greater notoriety as a result of this than had he been blessed with normal feet.
If he's got the personal charisma, he can pick up where Lance Armstrong has (arguably) left off.
There are things in life that were for me as important as I infer the Olympics were for him.
For me, the Marcellus Wallace quote about pride pertains in moments like this.

Re:I never thought I'd see the day ... (5, Insightful)

raehl (609729) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086384)

Why is he being discriminated against?

People are not allowed to use technical assistance in competitions. You wouldn't let someone run the 100 meters with shoes with wheels and a gasoline engine, would you?

While the limbs this fellow is using are not as good as gasoline engines, they are still apparently better than natural limbs - an advantage other athletes can not overcome without amputating their legs.

It's the same logic used in regards to banning steroids - you shouldn't have to destroy your body to have a chance at winning.

Re:I never thought I'd see the day ... (0)

Buran (150348) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086574)

I find your sig hilarious given the context.

I don't think having artificial legs is "cheating", though. He couldn't live a life close to normal without them. Because of a device he needs to live as well as he can, he's being blocked from his profession/hobby/avocation/whatever.

I don't know yet what I think of this, but considering I remember reading about a chess tournament that banned players with hearing aids (seriously, WTF?) I'm not sure I like this trend of accusing anyone who has artificial replacements for body parts that don't work right of doing something naughty.

Re:I never thought I'd see the day ... (5, Insightful)

immcintosh (1089551) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086672)

It seems fairly straightforward to me. He has a mechanical advantage, due to strength and low weight of materials it seems, that is impossible for other athletes to compete against. I think it becomes more straightforward if you turn it around a bit. If I were to intentionally replace my legs with superior artificial constructs, with the specific intention of being a superior athletic competitor as such, I think everybody would be screaming and crying that I shouldn't be allowed to compete.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that this guy has been able to overcome such a tremendous disadvantage so effectively, but in the end it would unfortunately be both unfair and set a bad precedent to allow him to compete. Now, if he wants to handicap (oh the irony) himself by adding weight (?) to his artificial limbs and such to make them more closely approximate the mechanical characteristics of natural limbs, then I think it'd be fair game :P

Re:I never thought I'd see the day ... (2, Insightful)

mcsqueak (1043736) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086688)

I don't think having artificial legs is "cheating", though. He couldn't live a life close to normal without them. Because of a device he needs to live as well as he can, he's being blocked from his profession/hobby/avocation/whatever.

While I thing it's wrong that he is being told he can't compete, the legs he uses to run are not normal "walking legs" that amputees normally have. Wired had a great article about him last spring http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/15.03/blade_pr.html [wired.com] and I think I remember it saying that his running legs are not easy to walk on. He has two sets: one for "about the town" as it were and one for sprinting. He *could* run with his walking legs, but his running legs do give him more power.

I for one think he had to overcome far more *not having legs* in order to run and any advantage he has because of these legs is offset by that. However, it's hard to tell where you draw the line with these things, which is unfortunate.

Re:I never thought I'd see the day ... (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086966)

he doesn't walk around everyday life with spring loaded legs though, when he runs he puts on his racing legs and off he goes. the problem is other people can't afford the super legs and they aren't a human analog at all, so yes i think the legs should be banned and he can compete with normal replacments like everyone else.

Re:I never thought I'd see the day ... (5, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086968)

I don't think having artificial legs is "cheating", though. He couldn't live a life close to normal without them. Because of a device he needs to live as well as he can, he's being blocked from his profession/hobby/avocation/whatever.

Using a mechanical device that provides an advantage over natural body parts is in fact cheating. The Olympics are not about what can be done by machines, it's about achieving the limits of the human body. When machines are involved, e.g. bicycling, they're a separate event unto themselves. We have devices that could hurl a discus farther than any human possibly could. But that's not what the Discus Throw is about, now is it?

Not that it really matters to the fundamental argument, but really, he does -not- need these particular legs to live a close to normal life. These are legs specifically designed for sprinting, not to let him walk around. He has other legs for that.

a chess tournament that banned players with hearing aids (seriously, WTF?)

I don't know anything about it, but I would wager that it's more about the fear that the hearing aid is actually a wireless speaker and they are receiving coaching. It is presumably a one-on-one chess tournament, and just like using mechanical devices in a foot race is cheating, so is using extra brains.

Though the policy is probably stupid, I'm sure there's a better way to ensure nobody gets remote coaching.

I'm not sure I like this trend of accusing anyone who has artificial replacements for body parts that don't work right of doing something naughty.

He isn't being accused of doing something "naughty". He isn't "accused" of anything. It's just a matter of fact assessment that his synthetic legs provide a mechanical advantage over human limbs, and that this is not what the Olympics are about.

"Naughty" would be if he were trying to somehow hide the fact that he was using performance-enhancing limbs, like athletes lie about using performance enhancing drugs. Maybe if cybernetics become more advanced, this will become an actual issue. In this case though he approached them openly and they said "um, no." It's not a value judgment of his character.

Personally I think this guy and his limbs are pretty awesome. But I also think that a competition about human performance should be about human performance.

Re:I never thought I'd see the day ... (1, Interesting)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086586)

To be fair, people would have to run against people of the exact same size, wieght, shape and metabolism, and preferably have psychological and neurological tests done to make sure they are of the same mental AND physical makeup, otherwise one athlete will have an advantage over another.

This example of the blade runner just amplifies the unfairness of the Olympics, and it's rather farcical nature. As far as I know there is no way to absolutely and conclusively test for substances (hormones, or otherwise) that could give a person an advantage. If the Olympics was not based on competition, then cheating would not be a concern; but for some reason some people want to believe that the Olympics is promoting sport and presumably a healthy lifestyle.

In other news... (4, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086686)

Barry Bonds testified today before a Congressional committee that he had never used performance-enhancing double-amputation prosthetic-limb-replacement surgery, in accordance with MLB policy.

He then bounded over the table and out the door at 40mph.

Re:I never thought I'd see the day ... (1)

grumpyman (849537) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086776)

Honestly I don't think it's a matter of "better" or "worse", but it's definitely DIFFERENT. It's definitely not fair (both ways).

And that logic is asinine (1, Interesting)

Rix (54095) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086802)

Should we limit the training time athletes may invest? After all, you shouldn't have to destroy your career to have a chance at winning (these are, after all, supposed to be amature athletes).

It's time to take the gloves off. Let the Olympics be a spectacle of what the human form (which intrinsically includes human technology) can do. Bring on the biotech!

Re:I never thought I'd see the day ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22086858)

Steroids, when used properly, enhance the body; they do not destroy it. Don't buy into the media myth without medical knowledge.

Exceeding a reasonable dose or using the wrong kinds of steroids can do damage of course. Then again, you can die from 20 Tylenol.

Re:I never thought I'd see the day ... (2, Insightful)

geek (5680) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086406)

If you were implanted with special hearing aids that gave you 30% better hearing than others you would see things differently. That's what's going on here. We've made advances in prosthetics that in some cases, make them better than actually having limbs. No muscles to tire, extra spring in the steps and so forth.

Re:I never thought I'd see the day ... (1)

Buran (150348) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086678)

And yet, there are individuals with extremely acute hearing who aren't banned from competitions that require hearing in some way. What is the difference? As someone else pointed out, there are individuals with a natural advantage over others who still can enter competitions... and I don't mean steroid-filled baseball players.

Re:I never thought I'd see the day ... (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086794)

The very principle of competition in a game is about distinguishing between fair and unfair advantages. Differences in body build are permitted in some sports and not others (which is why boxing has weight classes, for example.) The fact that some differences are considered a legitimate part of competition and others are not is not a defect or hypocrisy - it is the nature of competition itself.

Re:I never thought I'd see the day ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22086816)

Well see, you hit the difference directly on the head in your very first go--there are individuals with a natural advantage over others who can enter competitions, and there are individuals with an artificial advantage over others who cannot enter competitions. That is the difference. Mr. Super-leg can still run as he pleases, even hold exhibitions, shit, I'd love to see a man run 40mph--he just can't compete in an unaugmented sporting competition.

Re:I never thought I'd see the day ... (0)

ThePlague (30616) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086818)

Which is the nature of sports, those with a "natural advantage" over others competing. Strapping on mechanical devices doesn't conform to this idea unless they are part of the sport itself (i.e. like speed skating, etc). Robolegs aren't part of the usual equipment for sprinters.

Mmmmm (1)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086762)

So:

- less energy consumption
- less load on various blood processing organs
- better performance
- lightweight

... they might be on to something here. If they did arms too, and there was no loss of motor control... like that guy said in response to someone asking "why," why not?

Re:I never thought I'd see the day ... (1, Interesting)

Otter (3800) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086424)

Wheelchair racers aren't recognized as the overall winners of marathons, even though they're far faster than runners. I don't understand why that's completely acceptable but there's so much controversy over this guy, who is doing pretty much the same thing.

Re:I never thought I'd see the day ... (4, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086610)

It seems more obvious that "Wheels = disqualification" than it does that "Prosthetic legs = disqualification." I suspect a lot of it is due to the fact that people are imagining him running on the sort of "around town" prosthetics that most amputees use for day to day walking, rather than the carbon fibre arcs that he actually runs on.

Just looking at them, it's debatable as to whether or not its an advantage, but assuming the science was done correctly, a large mechanical advantage over an unmodified human should be grounds for disqualification from events that only feature unmodified humans. That's just math.

Re:I never thought I'd see the day ... (4, Interesting)

Itninja (937614) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086438)

I have friends in the deaf community, and I have seen others show discomfort around them because their communication methods are (according to some) more advanced. My friends can carry on complete conversations, silently, from across the room - using ASL. And they can, by lip reading, tell what others are saying even if they are out of voice range.

Re:I never thought I'd see the day ... (1)

Buran (150348) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086640)

I don't sign, but one could counter that with deaf people being nervous around hearing people who make sure you can't see their lips when they're talking, so as to carry on a conversation that the deaf people aren't in on. So it goes both ways.

Re:I never thought I'd see the day ... (5, Insightful)

FroBugg (24957) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086756)

And I can hold a conversation in complete darkness, or with my back turned, or pay attention to two people in completely different directions at the same time. Their communication isn't more advanced, just different.

Re:I never thought I'd see the day ... (1)

autocracy (192714) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086682)

That's because you don't have artificial ears that have a characteristic db gain, or a built-in DSP. Humans more or less have a tendency to rip on anything not exactly like them... better or worse.

Stupid people drag you down to their level, then beat you with the home-court advantage :-P

Re:I never thought I'd see the day ... (3, Interesting)

elBart0 (444317) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086724)

They're not discriminating against him, or even all prosthetic limbs. They are simply saying that those particular prosthetics give an unfair mechanical advantage. Someone else is free to develop different prosthetic legs that do not give as much of a mechanical advantage, and those may, possibly, be acceptable.

Re:I never thought I'd see the day ... (1)

SargentDU (1161355) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086766)

Well, I have heard of golf courses that dis-allowed use of golf carts too. Handicapped players would ride while the un-handicapped would walk the course and therefore be at a disadvantage from fatigueing as they walked the course.

Headline not accurate. (Surprise!) (5, Funny)

raehl (609729) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086334)

The runner wasn't disqualified. The artificial limbs he had been using were prohibited.

It's still possible for the runner to compete, so long as he does not use equipment that gives him an unfair advantage.

Re:Headline not accurate. (Surprise!) (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22086416)

So we strap shoes to his nubs?

I can see it now - "Dorf on Olympics"...

Say NO to enhancements, prosthetics, and... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22086644)

clothing!

Return to the day when Olympic athletes competed naked.

Re:Say NO to enhancements, prosthetics, and... (1)

aevan (903814) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086852)

I think I suddenly gained an interest in watching figure skating.

So... (1, Insightful)

Rix (54095) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086748)

Should people with longer legs be disqualified for the same reason?

Re:So... (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086846)

Was this guy born with carbon fiber leg replacements that have better mechanical efficiency then human feet?

Time for him to change careers... (0)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086338)

I hear the OSI is hiring people with special abilities...ask for Oscar Goldman.

good, no precedent (4, Insightful)

Weh (219305) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086350)

I bet that if he would have been allowed to compete some athletes would have been tempted to have certain parts of their bodies amputated and replace with more efficient artificial parts.

Re:good, no precedent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22086436)

I find it hard to worry about people who are dumb enough to cut off their legs to win a race. If they really think its a worthwhile tradeoff, they should be allowed to go for it.

Re:good, no precedent (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086486)

So steroids should be allowed in athletics, too?

Re:good, no precedent (2, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086508)

Why not? They're willing to do all kinds of drugs that are known to have bad side effects, just so they can be a little better. I wouldn't doubt there'd be a lot of 'accidents' with pro athletes and they end up with enhanced legs afterwards if it was allowed.

Re:good, no precedent (4, Interesting)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086618)

I can tell you without an once of hesitation that if I could trade my legs for $20 million, I'd do it in an instant.

Re:good, no precedent (4, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086972)

...trade my legs for $20 million

How about a pay per view televised event where they amputated your legs with a sledge hammer? It would take many swings, but I'm sure 80's celebrity Gallagher could do it with a live audience protected from flying knee meat by a plastic bib.

Certainly that would fetch $20 million.

Re:good, no precedent (3, Funny)

Patentmat (846401) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086596)

I bet that if he would have been allowed to compete some athletes would have been tempted to have certain parts of their bodies amputated and replace with more efficient artificial parts.

The Onion is already got this: "Olympic Runners Feeling Stupid For Cutting Off Legs Before Finding Out About Prosthetic Ban" http://www.theonion.com/content/news_briefs/olympic_runners_feeling [theonion.com]

Spring instead of 'feet' (5, Interesting)

Tungbo (183321) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086362)

The 'blade' does look like a spring. When he's just walking around, one can see him bouncing up and donw a bit. So this seems reasonable. He might qualify if he used a different prosthetic technology. I just hope athletes don't start thinking about replacing their naturla legs to get 'a leg up'!

Re:Spring instead of 'feet' (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22086516)

not all springs look like slinkies

Re:Spring instead of 'feet' (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086632)

I just hope athletes don't start thinking about replacing their naturla legs to get 'a leg up'!


I'd think you'd have to be pretty damned dedicated (and psycho) to do that. Personally, I think if a competition sport starts asking that much from their athletes that most athletes would just rather move to a new (perhaps related) sport.

Effects of steroids is delayed pain -- a missing leg or two would have immediate downsides.

Perfectly reasonable decsion (0)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086380)

based on what they found.
I think Steve Austin wuold qualify either.

OTOH, I would love to see an olympic event with much looser rules. As long as your reasonable human shaped and stand on two upright units thet must me lifted up for movement.
.

Get over it. (5, Interesting)

Besna (1175279) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086388)

I am a transhumanist--behind it all the way. Stories like this trivialize the serious nature of transhumanism. It's not about implanting a bike or something. It's about the relief of suffering, and the unlocking of our true abilities. Read Kurzweil's latest books. Go to Transworld or the Singularity Summit. Betterhumans.com is growing in quality. Sentientdevelopments.blogspot.com feature George Dvorsky, an experienced thinker and speaker. The wise atheists among us don't need to be told the obvious--that our disabled are quickly become our first transhumans. The real developments await.

Re:Get over it. (5, Funny)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086732)

No, posts like yours seriousize the trivial nature of transhumanism.

Re:Get over it. (1)

JockTroll (996521) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086884)

"Transhumanist" is loserboyspeak for "I'm so unhappy because my body is pitiful, I'm ugly, skinny, and look like shit warmed over". No implants will make you a better person. You have no "true abilities" to unlock. You're a loser, a reject and a nothing. Get over it or suicide.

Not faster... more efficient (5, Informative)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086390)

He isn't disqualified because he is faster (he isn't faster than the fast guys) its because he is more efficient. What this means is that in a 400m race he has more energy coming down the last straight than the competition does which is clearly unfair.

The only real surprise is that he hadn't worked this out and competed at the 800m, 1500m or even the 5,000m as that efficiency would really pay off.

Its an artificial aid in the same was a drugs are or riding a bike would be. Its unfortunate for the chap but its the right decision, otherwise you might as well let Marion Jones back in with a terminator suit and a jet-pack.

Re:Not faster... more efficient (1)

smurfsurf (892933) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086890)

Maybe he tried longer distances, was way faster than the competition and therefor choose not to do them in fear of getting disqualified even earlier on.

Re:Not faster... more efficient (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086982)

Yes, it seems pretty clear-cut to me too. The circumstances that led to the decision to add prosthetic elements doesn't matter, simply the performance effect; what's the difference between losing one's feet through accident then getting artificial replacement, and losing one's feet intentionally as part of an operation to get enhanced ones? It would suck to be him, unable to compete in any olympics (well, until we have the cyborg olympics...).

Wait a minute... (2, Insightful)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086396)

SO "According to the IAAF report, the 'mechanical advantage of the blade in relation to the healthy ankle joint of an able bodied athlete is higher than 30-percent.' Additionally, Pistorius uses 25-percent less energy than average runners due to the artificial limbs, therefore giving him an unfair advantage on the track."

I guess I won't be needing these anymore.

I say... (1)

drspliff (652992) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086402)

Let him run, his "disability" resulted in the amputation of his legs at only 11 months old iirc. If others want to compete - they can make the choice of cutting off their legs in order to compete on the same level... :)

What I do find very interesting is how more effecient these are compared to normal human legs, surely we could so something similar with specialised running shoes/attachments ?

Re:I say... (1)

rtechie (244489) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086564)

surely we could so something similar with specialised running shoes/attachments?
Absolutely, which is why we don't let runners compete with springs on their feet. Basically, this guy has replaced his lower legs with leaf springs. He would have even more of an advantage than the runners with springs on their feet because they're ADDING weight, he's subtracting it.

How can it be fair? (1)

GeigerBC (1056332) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086418)

How would the Olympics make it fair for him to compete? Either he's too fast with the new artificial leg and he can't compete or they could tell him to use a leg that isn't as good and then he may not be fast enough.

Re:How can it be fair? (1)

Eudial (590661) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086558)

How would the Olympics make it fair for him to compete? Either he's too fast with the new artificial leg and he can't compete or they could tell him to use a leg that isn't as good and then he may not be fast enough.


The entire argument is stupid. How can it ever be fair? It's like saying fit people can't compete because it would be unfair for the obese chainsmokers, or that people with healthy genes can't compete because they get an unfair advantage over people with Parkinson's disease.

Isn't there a Special Olympics (2, Interesting)

microbee (682094) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086420)

for people just like him?

It'd be unfair either way, for him or for the normal athletes.

Re:Isn't there a Special Olympics (1)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086626)

That is an interesting observation. Normally he would probably qualify for the Special Olympics, but considering he cannot even compete in the standard Olympics, I am not sure where this leaves him... It's a catch-22, which seems unfortunate as he is obviously a commendable athlete.

Paralympics (5, Informative)

Stripsurge (162174) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086932)

Special olympics are for mentally disabled athletes.

He could however compete in the Paralympics which are geared towards physical disabilities such as amputees or blind people. They are held in the same year and same city as the regular olympics. The one catch with the paralympics is that because there are so many classifications disabilities they have to rotate through which type gets to compete each year. Think: you couldn't very well have someone missing a leg and a half swimming against someone only missing a foot. I can't remember exactly how many classifications of amputees there are but I think there are enough that an athlete might only get to compete in one Paralympics that falls into their particular condition.

AS USUAL (5, Informative)

initdeep (1073290) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086428)

The summary and the truth are far from the same....

He's not out because he's "too fast"

He's out because his specific prosthetic lower legs and feet have less wind resistance than normal legs, return WAY more energy per stride than normal legs, and offer him what amounts to a competitive advantage over other runners.

If he wants to compete, he's free to do so, just not with those specific prosthesis.

He can submit others to the Committee for acceptance all day long.

This is no different than the way the olympic committee judges the use of certain swimsuits, softball bats, or any other equipment in use during the Olympics.

It's just common sense (2, Interesting)

Lucas123 (935744) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086434)

If you allowed a amputees who became superior athletes after their injuries to participate in the olympics and they began winning, everyone would start cutting off their legs.

Re:It's just common sense (1)

|deity| (102693) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086490)

I agree 100%. Eventually all sprinters would have their legs surgically removed and replaced with high performance prosthetics. If we are going to allow this guy to race I say go ahead and let everyone have the option. They can put specs on the prosthetics that limit the materials or the mechanical design much like car racing.

At that point we would have lots of cyborg runners.

Re:It's just common sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22086570)

If you allowed a amputees who became superior athletes after their injuries to participate in the olympics and they began winning, everyone would start cutting off their legs.
Okay. So what's the problem? It's common for world-class atheletes to make huge short-term sacrifices to their bodies and minds (and live with long-term side effects, arthritis, pain, etc.) because 1) it's their dream to win and 2) plenty of people will pay/sponsor/praise them for their efforts.

Free choice. No big deal. And yes, I feel similarly about performance enhancing substances. Atheletes impose all kinds of other artificial modifications on themselves via autrition (commonly synthesized, hyper-nutritional supplements -- not just plucking vegetables and chickens from the backyard garden), vitamins (lots of R&D here), weightlifting technology (isolating muscles with machines that in no way mimics natural human activities), unnatural flexibility, unnaturally large thighs, biceps, etc. It's all good.

Any downside? (2, Interesting)

GloomE (695185) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086450)

Does anyone know of any downside to lopping your legs off below the knee and "installing" a pair of these?

I know someone who's feet and ankle bones are fusing/disintegrating, why shouldn't they look forward to this?

Re:Any downside? (2, Informative)

stranger_to_himself (1132241) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086576)

Phantom limb syndrome would be a pretty good reason. But then I don't know how bad the existing condition is. I recall a story of a woman who deliberately cut off her own legs because of a strange mental illness, 'body integrity identity disorder' it was called (thanks, Google!).

Re:Any downside? (1)

Sciros (986030) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086792)

Does anyone know of any downside to lopping your legs off below the knee
Uhhhh... can't think of a single one... so go for it.

Re:Any downside? (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086814)

Yeah. Can you think of no reason that you would need feet that move independently of your leg? I imagine stairs are a little harder to handle, rock climbing or climbing a tree would be harder, and it would be harder to appear sexy to those with a foot fetish ;)

Re:Any downside? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086850)

NO more enjoyment from hookers sucking on your toes?

Also, um... hm. Lets see, move around better then if you had feet, and still be qualified as disabled.
No, I don't actually see a down side..unless you get Bender to do it.

Screw Myminicity! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22086458)

Ok, it's done, I'm fed up.

Vigilante style repercussions are not my usual style but the myminicity.com folks have managed to get me irritated once too many. Myminicity.com 'rewards' their users for spamming sites with links that point back to myminicity.com.

I'm a regular visitor to slashdot and since a couple of weeks a bunch of jerks have been placing cloaked links to 'myminicity.com' in just about every story.

Myminicity.com is complicit in this because they actively encourage users to send traffic to those links in order to boost their status in the system.

To give the myminicity.com jackasses a run for their money I've come up with a very simple plan.

Fight fire with fire.

Support the official Slashdot mymincity page:

Slashdotcity! [tinyurl.com]

Slashdotcity!
Slashdotcity!
Slashdotcity!

That's right! Post this link in your blogs, on slashdot articles, everywhere you can. We badly need links to /tra, /ind, /sec, /env because are population is bleeding away.

Together, people, we can beat them at their own game!

Technically this is probably illegal, but call me reckless. As I said, I'm pissed off

Re:Screw Myminicity! (-1, Offtopic)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086544)

You know what? I'm the one that started that city, and it wasn't even my idea... I posted it as a joke response to someone who -did- think of it. I resent Trolls stealing my city and claiming the idea as their own.

Genteleman, we can rebuild him. (3, Funny)

sehlat (180760) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086492)

We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world's first bionic man. Oscar Pistorius will be that man. Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster.

Allow me to rephrase (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086836)

We have the technology... will be better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster, and illegal.

How fast is he really? (1)

HuguesT (84078) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086504)

Actually, the guy is amazing, but he is not that fast, in spite of the supposed advantage (and contrary to the FA). I think the IOC doesn't want to set a precedent. His times are comparable to 1920's world records for 100m, 200m and 400m, which is still pretty damn good ! (look up wikipedia [wikipedia.org] for all details). I'm not sure what the qualifying times are for the olympics, but I'm not positive he would make them.

Of course he is also the world record holder in these 3 distances in the paralympics.

Carbon Fiber Feet (1)

AeroIllini (726211) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086514)

I think the far more important question is...

Where can I get some of those carbon fiber feet?!

Even if I just get a smaller version that fit over my shoes, I could walk a lot faster, lessen strain on my joints, jog farther and more efficiently, and slam dunk like nobody's business. Also, I would be taller.

It seems like this would be good technology to work into a soldier's exoskeleton, too.

Re:Carbon Fiber Feet (1)

Yahweh Doesn't Exist (906833) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086582)

it would also help with long falls when you go through misplaced portals

Re:Carbon Fiber Feet (1)

Werkhaus (549466) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086642)

>Where can I get some of those carbon fiber feet?!

Not 100% identical, but close enough. Here: http://www.power-stilts.com/ [power-stilts.com]

World Record Smashed! (1)

Patentmat (846401) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086540)

Is this really that different from just putting him behind the wheel of a car? We would be looking at 0 to 100 meters in ~ 4 seconds upwards of 75mph while the other runners were not even halfway down the track. A preemptive comment regarding those who say it is not human powered. Fine, put him in a bicycle and watch the records fall.

what if... (1)

dark whole (1220600) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086584)

what if they gave him legs that weren't as good, making the advantage negligible?

Re:what if... (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086878)

Where's the competition if they're going to artificially adjust his legs to make the playing field level?

Makes sense (1)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086600)

I remember back when I was on crutches, I was amazed at how quickly I could go fairly long distances with very little energy expenditure. Basically, you keep your arms stiff, stick the crutches in front of you and swing between them. I would zip by people on the sidewalk and about all it cost in terms of energy was bringing the crutches from behind me to in front of me. In terms of endurance, I could definitely go further at a quick pace on the crutches than I could on just my feet.

Clearly the prosthetic legs provide similar advantages. A fair race would be between this guy and people with similar prosthetic devices, but it would be completely unfair to let him compete against people without the same advantage. That's not to say that having to have your legs amputated is a good thing and I'm sure there are some pretty serious drawbacks. But for a contest like this, it's simply unfair.

Go-Go Gadget Sports Advantage (2, Interesting)

decipher_saint (72686) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086614)

I wonder how long it will be before cybernetic sports become a reality?

I mean, think about it. Soccer can be a rough sport but it's nothing compared to American Football. The game is faster and rougher and vastly supported (and in my opinion enhanced) by technology (helmets, pads, shoes, etc). But that would be nothing if players were augmented in such a way to play faster / better / stronger.

Granted, most athletes won't cut their feet off for speed enhancing powers a prosthetic might bestow just yet, but how far off are we from seeing "cybersports" develop and shift into the mainstream?

Old news and bad reporting (2, Interesting)

tyrantking31 (1115607) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086616)

First of all, he got trashed in a race against olympic caliber sprinters earlier this year. Second, as one of the previous posts pointed out, his cyborg legs were disqualified not him. If he grows new legs, he's in. Third, there are at least two problems that led to the disqualification of the prosthetics, 1. the prosthetics provide less air resistance and second, they enable the wearer to reverse his energy efficiency; meaning that he is faster at the end of the race than at the beginning. Human sprinters are usually slower at the end of the race. http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/wire?section=trackandfield&id=2937538 [go.com] http://sports.espn.go.com/oly/trackandfield/news/story?id=2938043 [go.com]

What a coincidence (1)

jskuby (1222100) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086670)

Two days ago my fiancee and I were watching TV and a commercial came on which depicted a female runner with one prosthetic, carbon fiber leg. I turned to her and said, "that's not fair, she'll have an advantage." She asked why and I proceeded to explain that the artificial leg would cause less strain on her body while "normal" runners might be starting to fatigue. She however did not agree. Let's just say the moment I saw this story, I had to tell her right away and prove that a man, in fact, can be right about something.

Minor correction (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086892)

"...prove that a man, in fact, can be right about something, for now."
There you go, fixed it.

He's Special... (1)

IronMagnus (777535) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086698)

He could just go to the Special Olympics and whomp everyone else there.

Open Class and Stock Class (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22086780)

Sometimes I think sports should have Open Class and Stock Class. Stock Class athletes would be required to compete with a standard human body -- no enhancing drugs, no springy feet, etc. Open Class athletes could use anything they wanted: prosthetics, drugs, whatever.

There is a down side to Open Class...

"And it's one minute to go... 'Wild Man Jones' is injecting his final enhancers... whoa, look at those convulsions! And there's the bell... they're off and running, except for Jones. Guess those latest enhancers were still Beta-test quality, heh heh... oh wait, he stopped moving. Yikes, look at that head explode! I haven't seen anything like this since I watched Scanners [imdb.com] !"

Of course sometimes I think the above would make sports MORE popular. :-/

Aljazeera English story (1)

velcrow66 (32838) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086838)

Aljazeera English did an interesting piece on him about a year ago:

      http://youtube.com/watch?v=d17vqoH9Xfs/ [youtube.com]

Clap skates (1)

jellie (949898) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086842)

Clap skates [wikipedia.org] become popular in the late 1990s because they had an advantage over the traditional skates, and now nearly all speedskaters use them. Why did the IOC allow them to use it, but the IAAF prevent him from using his prosthetics? Could it be argued that skates who use clap skates have a technical advantage over those who choose not to?

While I may agree somewhat with Pistorius's disqualification, it is also important to note that his personal record for the 400m is well short of the automatic qualifying time [nytimes.com] .

Pure bullshit (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086880)

As an amputee myself, I can tell you this is pure bullshit. There is no mechanical advantage. There are no super robo-cop attachments to give any sort superhuman powers. If there were, believe me, I'd have them, as I've stayed on the cutting edge of technology throughout my prostheses. The "finish line" for the tech is still to replicate a normal foot, it's not there yet, let alone past it.

This is pure whining, the olympics are a corrupt political joke. Someone simply payed them to DQ an athlete on some technicality.

If the man can run faster than his peers it would be a miracle. The fact that he can compete with them is amazing.

The IOC should be ashamed, but if they were remotely capable of this, they would have committed suicide en masse years ago.

Life imitates art. (4, Funny)

El_Smack (267329) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086948)

And I suppose PitchBot 9000 was just a modified Howitzer?

This is what you get... (1)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086954)

This is what you get for hiring the wrong engineers.

They rebuild you too good, too strong, too fast.
Seriously, if ONLY he had done some proper cost-cutting, he wouldn't have this problem.

This is the problem with engineering today. You guys are so focused on doing things right that you don't realize the value of failure.

That's my motto. Fail early, Fail often, and then eventually fix your Failures.
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