The HoS editorial:
The question of whether the double-amputee runner Oscar Pistorius should be eligible to run in the Olympic Games has been needlessly turned into a technical and ethical conundrum.
The 25-year-old South African sprinter, born without fibula bones, had both legs amputated at mid-shin as a baby because he would never have been able to walk on them. Now he runs – on J-shaped carbon-fibre prosthetics. He holds the world records for his disabled-athlete class in the 100m, 200m and 400m.
He is an amazing athlete, who could have spent his life in a wheel chair but instead has pushed himself to his limit.
Those who argue for his inclusion suggest that it might help erase the lines between people with physical disabilities and those without. But such reasoning is specious and, worse, supports him by patronising him. There is no erasing the line between Pistorius and the other runners against whom he will line up in London: he does not have the legs that birth gave him. It may make able-bodied people feel warm and fuzzy to say he’s just like the rest of us. He is not. His legs were made in Iceland. …
The nature of athletic competition is that like contends with like. Sports’ governing bodies come up with divisions – by weight and age, for example – all the time, in order to ensure that undue differences are erased. The essence of the Olympics’ purest form, track and field events, is that – gender apart – competition is open to all-comers.
The corollary is that competitors show up with nothing other than what their genes and training regimes have equipped them with. The now-sophisticated drug-testing regime – and the ignominy that attends on those exposed as drug cheats – attest to our desire that competitors are not advantaged by science.
The question of whether Pistorius is advantaged or disadvantaged does not require answering. The fact that it even needs to be asked renders it redundant. One look at him is enough to tell you that he has no more a place in those races than somebody with a jet pack strapped to his back.
I’m tempted to agree. I have the greatest respect for disabled athletes, but in the Olympics any use of technology shouldn’t be allowed.