Thursday, May 22, 2008

The 'Blade-Runner' to compete in Olympics

In a follow-up to our previous blog entry about bionic athletes, Olympian hopeful , won his appeal in front of the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport. The court ruled that his carbon-fiber prosthetic limbs do not give him an advantage over other runners.

Blogger and disability rights activists Greg Wolbring has some interesting stuff to say about the ruling in his blog:

1) The ruling I assume will be interpreted to be a ruling against the scientific data claiming that the cheetah legs lead to an unfair advantage. The ruling leaves the door open that one could exclude a runner with prosthetics from competing in a ‘natural leg’ running event if it can be proven that the ‘artificial’ legs lead to an unfair advantage. This makes sense. So far the process of investigating theses new ‘artificial’ legs is not developed enough to be called a golden standard so its open for interpretations. Once tests are developed that are accepted as the golden standard and they show an unfair advantage one can see that that runner won’t be allowed to run against the ‘biological leg’ runners.

2) However the ruling seems to give the answer to another question. Are the Olympics about athletes who have a body adhering to the norm of the homo sapient species? In other words is the Olympics about athletes with a ‘normal biological body’? The ruling cements the view that the Olympics are not about biological bodies per se. So one can compete in the Olympics independent of whether certain biological parts are replaced by artificial parts.
If the replacement does not lead to a competitive advantage athletes with artificial body parts can compete against athletes where the body part in question is biological and not artificial.
If the replacement does leads to a competitive advantage one could see the ruling opening the door for the scenario where the athletes with artificial body parts compete against each others in the Olympics whereby the artificial body parts are treated like a pole used in pole vaulting…

Greg's blog can be found here.


George said...

For clarification, the ruling has made it possible for Pistorius to qualify for the Olympics. It's no sure bet that he'll earn the right to be there.

Linda MacDonald Glenn said...

Thanks, George, for that clarification!