Should Postorius run

July 8th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The HoS editorial:

The question of whether the double-amputee runner 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 ’ 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.

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42 Responses to “Should Postorius run”

  1. kowtow (8,314 comments) says:

    It’s equality don’t you see. A bit like marriage.

    Political equality has been taken to the level of the absurd. Everything is up for redefinition, Orwell warned of it.

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  2. Jimmy Smits (246 comments) says:

    kowtow (2,173) Says:
    July 8th, 2012 at 10:05 am

    It’s equality don’t you see. A bit like marriage.

    Here we go again. The thing about people like you, kowtow, is that you pretty much show why people have no desire to be Christians anymore. Christianity is known for its oppression of minorities, whether it be homosexuals or the disabled. You are the perfect representation of a judgmental God on Earth.

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  3. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    Jimmy

    Would Protorius be allowed to compete in the high jump with the carbon fibre pins? I doubt it

    Anyway he’s not that flash and will be lucky to make a semi final

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  4. thor42 (971 comments) says:

    I agree, DPF. He’s a great athlete, but he is an amputee. As such, the Paralympics are the place for him to show what he can do.

    If technology is to be allowed at the Olympics, then why not drugs? They are “technology” as well. ( The obvious answer would be that drugs are harmful, but I’m sure that it’d be possible for a performance-enhancing drug to be created that is not harmful. )

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  5. Rob Salmond (246 comments) says:

    DPF: “I have the greatest respect for disabled athletes, but in the Olympics any use of technology shouldn’t be allowed.”

    So, for consistency, you are also against athletes using expensive energy-efficient shoes, fancy swimsuits, aerodynamic bicycle helmets, fast-acting pain killers, or other technology to aid their cause either, yes?

    As for the HoS editorial, the utterly obvious difference between carbon fibre blades and a jet pack, the two things they equivocate between, is that only one of them generates energy external to the athlete.

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  6. kowtow (8,314 comments) says:

    jimmy smits

    where did i mention religion?
    i spoke of the “equality”bullshit that is sweeping the west. Now it’s at the Olympics. Even the medal tally is starting to include the disabled.

    and you’re wrong about Christianity. It is growing . Only in the west is it dying out.

    and should old piny Post run or not?

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  7. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    Rob

    Legs are a requirement for running, he doesn’t have any, shit happens.

    Fancy swimsuits are not used to replace arms, your disingenuity is quite stunning for so early on a Sunday morning

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  8. Scott Chris (6,058 comments) says:

    but in the Olympics any use of technology shouldn’t be allowed

    You might want to qualify that a bit David. I’d like to see you do the pole vault with no carbon fiber pole.

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  9. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    There is a danger that allowing anyone to compete in these circumstances would open the door to Gattaca-style surgery. “Hi Doc, just chop my healthy legs off so I can get those cool carbon-fibre ones to run faster”.

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  10. TimG_Oz (862 comments) says:

    There is so much technology in sport that you don’t see. Off the field and inside the athletes bodies.

    The Olympics is just a showpiece. An elaborate spectacle. You need to let this guy run, he is part of the show.

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  11. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    if by chance he should win…then the shit will really hit the fan…

    phillip ure whoar.co.nz

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  12. jims_whare (403 comments) says:

    For one I would love to see an Olympic race based on jet packs. Say maybe over a kilometre with an open speed limit.

    Would be real crazy to watch – especially any malfunctions.

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  13. radvad (754 comments) says:

    The smallest niggle can seriously affect finely tuned athletes. He has fewer body parts to condition or get injured, a definite advantage.

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  14. Other_Andy (2,608 comments) says:

    Will carbon fibre blades now also be allowed for able bodied athletes?
    (They seem to give an athlete an advantage :
    http://www.bu.edu/law/central/jd/organizations/journals/international/volume27n2/documents/8Zettler.pdf)
    Then all the other questions…..
    When will a disabled person be allowed to wear blades?
    – Only when both legs are amputated or is one leg enough?
    – Only when his legs are amputated obove the knees? What about people who have legs amputated below the knees or have feet or toes amputated?

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  15. jims_whare (403 comments) says:

    Oh the other question – should athletes with six toes on each foot be handicapped to make it fair on the others?

    Or should they be made to chop one toe off?

    Deep ethical questions…………..hmmmmm

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  16. thedavincimode (6,691 comments) says:

    I’ve already ruled on this matter.

    Before immigant was yellow carded, he stated that he was very keen to put a bet on a boxer who had lost his hands and had had them replaced with steel fists.

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  17. Jimmy Smits (246 comments) says:

    kowtow (2,175) Says:
    July 8th, 2012 at 10:25 am

    jimmy smits

    where did i mention religion?
    i spoke of the “equality”bullshit that is sweeping the west. Now it’s at the Olympics. Even the medal tally is starting to include the disabled.

    and you’re wrong about Christianity. It is growing . Only in the west is it dying out.

    and should old piny Post run or not?

    Yeah, but it’s always Christians like you who are the only people who are against equality (e.g. for gay marriage).

    And there’s no pride in the fact that developing countries such as China and Africa are increasing in their religious numbers – they just happen to have less information to educate them about it to make an informed choice. If every copy of the Bible a missionary gave to some third world young adult was accompanied by The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins you would be seeing no increase.

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  18. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    You need to let this guy run, he is part of the show.

    This is a common view, it seems.  Sport is apparently not about competing, it is merely about entertainment.  That is the same sort of view that considers sportsmen to be role models.

    If it is simply about entertainment, then we shouldn’t worry about drugs cheating, or any other form of enhancement, surely.  Anything to make it more of a spectacle.

    EDIT: Jimmy Smits,

    No, Muslims are also against gay marriage, usually more strongly than most Christians. So it is isn’t merely Christians that are against ‘equality’.

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  19. TimG_Oz (862 comments) says:

    If it is simply about entertainment, then we shouldn’t worry about drugs cheating, or any other form of enhancement, surely. Anything to make it more of a spectacle.

    I don’t like it, but that’s what it is…..

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  20. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    I don’t like it, but that’s what it is…..

    But if we accept your view as being correct, then any sport becomes irrelevant as a competition.  You may as well begin to script it.

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  21. thedavincimode (6,691 comments) says:

    You may as well begin to script it.

    Ah hem, cricket, pro “wrestling”, pro “boxing” ….

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  22. Other_Andy (2,608 comments) says:

    “Yeah, but it’s always Christians like you who are the only people who are against equality (e.g. for gay marriage).”

    You can’t be for or against “equality” or “inequality”.
    Inequality isn’t right or wrong, it is a fact.
    Things are either equal or not.
    And pretending inequal things are equal or treating things that aren’t equal as equal doesn’t make it so.

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  23. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    i think that sky-rocket-battles should become an olympic sport..

    ..it’d be so cool to watch…

    ..opposing teams firing hand-held skyrockets at each other..

    ..sport bores me rigid..but i’d watch that…

    (“..and new zealand has retaliated with a mt cook..followed by a barrage of ruapehu’s..”..)

    ..phillip ure whoar.co.nz

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  24. Colville (2,261 comments) says:

    No.

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  25. gump (1,634 comments) says:

    If you don’t believe that technology plays a significant role in the Olympics games, consider the following question:

    Q. Why don’t the Kenyans dominate long distance cycle racing?

    A. They can’t afford $15,000 race bikes.

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  26. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    gump,

    Is that the same reason that NZers don’t dominate long distance cycle racing?

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  27. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Of course technology plays a significant role in many, many sports. That’s not really the question here, despite DPF’s clumsy and erroneous wording. If it was open slather on technology, we wouldn’t test for drugs or stipulate what kinds of equipment can be used as we do for lots of sports. The question here is surgical improvements to limbs, etc, that have the potential to turn an ordinary healthy human into somethng like an X-man.

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  28. The Scorned (719 comments) says:

    Marriage is an institution created by men…..far before the fictional God of his supposed bastard child Jesus were ever dreamed up in the fevered minds of other Men. As such marriage’s open to ALL human beings by virtue of them being human….that’s the crux of the matter. To dent some this equal right is wrong on all counts.

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  29. Grizz (597 comments) says:

    Pretorius has no calf muscles or a flexor hallucis longus (the muscle that flexes his great toe which is a very powerful muscle for running). While the blades might off a spring, the better sprinters should be able to extract more power and thus speed than pretorius could ever dream of. But good luck to him for giving it a go.

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  30. flipper (3,979 comments) says:

    It would be helpful if folk compared apples with apples.
    A carbon fibre pole is not an ARTICICIAL AId. The pole is an integral part of the event.
    Originallk the poles were timber, then fibre glass, now CARBON FIBRE. Equality is achieved by all competitors having the same equipment. In fact, I seem to recall rhat the poles are actually supplied by the event organiser, but that may no longer be the case.
    Rowing skiffs are part of the event.
    Javelin s were once timber, then fibre glass NOW carbon fibre. The requirement is that the javelin is a specific length and weight, within parameters.

    Same for yachts, shot puts,hammers, discus, hockey balls, volley balls, basketballs, footballs, and from 2016, rugby balls.

    The carbon fibre legs are an artificial AID because they
    a. Weigh much less that human legs, and
    b. Have an inherent mechicaL action/advantage under certain circumstances.

    So are the neoprene suits work by anorexic-like triarhletes (especially female).
    Full body swim suits are now illegal and shoud be.

    The IAAF allowed the artificial lower leg exception because it wanted to be PC and because of a perceived PR advantage.
    The neoprene swimsuits for triathletes are permitted because few would survive a 1.5 to 3km swim in lake or sea waters. Swim pools are normally 72F or slightly more.

    The debate could go on and on. But the drug ban is built upon the “no artificial aids” ru;e. It should apply to legs. or arms.

    Incidedntally, the human head weighs about 14lbs. The head acts as a counter-balance of sorts to the legs. Cut the head off and (apart from headless fowls etc) the legs would sink by anything up to 40-50 cms, creating considerable drag. That is why most competitive swmmers ensure that the water flows OVER their and they breath in a trough when turning their head (as little as possible). Only in breast, back and butterfly is the head above the water for any sIgnificant time.

    Hope this helps.

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  31. Michael Mckee (1,091 comments) says:

    No.

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  32. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,746 comments) says:

    The IAAF like to be right on don’t they?

    The Caster Semenya case being another example of this.

    Dave’s doppelgänger, Peter Griffin
    , says it all.

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  33. cha (3,943 comments) says:

    Or Pinki Pramanik who’s been accused of being male and alleged to have raped her female partner.

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  34. Monique Watson (1,062 comments) says:

    He should be allowed. A lot of olympic excellence is due to technology, however his advantage is more obvious and immediate. Think of all those who wouldn’t be lining up on the blocks if it weren’t for major technological or surgical advances.Anyone who was born by c-section for starters. if it was wings that he was fitted with, that wouldn’t be appropriate.However, I imagine that what he is fitted with is a poor substitute for original interface, but still testimony to what man is now capable of.

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  35. mara (770 comments) says:

    Who would have once thought it .. a cripple who is not crippled? But no, he should not be there.

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  36. Maaik (33 comments) says:

    @Rob Salmond: So non-energy-producing prosthetics are OK? I should get an easy gold medal in any swimming event when I pitch up with my integral flipper feet…..is it too late to qualify?

    Loved the concept of iron-fisted boxers braining each other, TDM – a fitting way for that sport to go, by making participation fatal in the short term (instead of long term)

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  37. Brian Smaller (4,012 comments) says:

    What next? A genetically engineered swimmer with a blowhole?

    Hey – they let that hermaphrodite run as a woman so the like v like thing obviously a flexible target.

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  38. seanmaitland (500 comments) says:

    lol – all you guys are kidding yourselves if you think that it is a level playing field at the Olympics, and that no-one else uses technology to get advantages.

    What about how the Black Sticks are training inside heated, humidified chambers, that no-other hockey team at the Olympics are preparing in? How is that a level playing field?

    The Olympics is about doing whatever you can to win, and all about entertainment and commercialism. You high and mighty idiots on here preaching about it being a fair contest sound about as convincing as global climate change preachers.

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  39. SHG (312 comments) says:

    The prosthetics are lighter than flesh and bone, require no plumbing (blood supply, sweat, lymph, etc), consume no resources (so all that oxygenated blood and glucose can be directed elsewhere), produce no waste products that need to be processed by the body (lactic acid, carbon dioxide, etc) and are more efficient at turning downward force into forward motion than flesh and bone.

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  40. TM (99 comments) says:

    I agree he has to be in a different catergory. Otherwise you might as well allow wheelchair racers to compete in the marathon and smash the world record.

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  41. gump (1,634 comments) says:

    @SHG

    If all of that is true, then why doesn’t Pistorius run faster than his able-bodied competitors?

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  42. V (699 comments) says:

    I suppose you could make a case for the paraolympics to be before the Olympics and the x best get to go through to the olympics in a few sports where there is some similarity even though the disabled person will likely be at a disadvantage.

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