Last year Oscar Pistorius was refused clearance by the IAAF to compete in the 2008 Olympics. This was one of the very few triumphs of common sense last year. However, roll on 2008 and on the 16th of May the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) overturned this ruling. One can only assume they were overcome by a heart-warming story and the burning desire for an 80s Montage Moment.
I am finding it difficult to put into words how angry this makes me. Athletics should be a pure sport in which the worlds best athletes push their bodies and minds to the limit. It should not be a school sports day where the fat kid gets a head start and there are no real losers. I may come across as crass and cruel but it's what I believe to be right. This is a slippery slope: What happens if Oscar fancies taking up
swimming? Can he detach his blades and strap on some flippers?
I have said it before and I'll say it again. He is clearly an amazing bloke and should be very proud of what he has achieved but I don't see the logic of giving someone a leg-up on the competition because they are at a disadvantage. This is a contest between the very best athletes in the world and if you're not good enough then I don't care why you're not good enough. You just aren't.
I will concede that there are many complexities with regards to athletics and the rules of competition and I agree it's tough to figure out where the line is to be drawn on technological advancements. Where do supplements become drugs? Where do advanced training shoes become unfair aids.
I don't know the answer to those questions but I do know this: whatever is allowed for one should be allowed for all, so unless the CAS wish to see all runners going round the track wearing carbon fibre stilts I think they should take a long look at this decision and their need for an engineered fairy tale.
They have effectively taken away the level playing field that makes sport possible. To quote Arthur Caplan:
"He may not have a marked advantage, but his artificial limbs make him too different from those he competes against, and too unlike those who have raced before. It's not about giving him an opportunity. The issue is that Pistorius risks destroying exactly what he wants to do - compete in a sport."
- Arthur Caplan, Ph.D., is director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania.