Entertainment & Sports Law

Double Amputee Can Run for Olympic Spot Despite Prosthetics, CAS Says


Updated: A double amputee who was banned from competing as a sprinter in the 2008 Olympics because his prosthetic legs allegedly give him an advantage over athletes who still have their own biological legs has won a reprieve.

An appellate body today overturned the January ruling against Oscar Pistorius of South Africa by the International Association of Athletics Federations. The decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport says there is insufficient evidence to show either any unfair advantage to the 21-year-old from running on prosthetic legs or any violation of competition rules, reports Reuters.

“I am ecstatic,” Pistorius told reporters in Milan, Italy, writes the Los Angeles Times. “When I found out, I cried. It is a battle that has been going on for far too long. It’s a great day for sport. I think this day is going to go down in history for the equality of disabled people.”

Pistorius runs on two J-shaped carbon fiber extensions to his legs that look like sleek, slender flippers, and is known as “the blade runner” because of his prosthetics, as discussed in an earlier ABAJournal.com post on the IAAF’s January ruling.

Pistorius says he is happy with the ruling and, although it will be difficult to qualify for the 2008 Olympics during the short time remaining before the games, he intends to try. “I have the opportunity once again to chase my dream of the Olympics if not 2008, in 2012,” he tells Reuters.

Additional coverage:

London Times: “Amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius allowed to compete in Beijing”

Bloomberg: ” ‘Blade Runner’ Amputee Wins Right to Try for Olympics”

The Lawyer: “Dewey & LeBoeuf gifts amputee an Olympic chance”

ABAJournal.com (April 30): “What’s Unfair Today May Be Fair Tomorrow, and Vice-Versa”

Updated at 1:10 p.m. to include London Times coverage.

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