Fri, Feb 15, 2008 - Page 23 News List

Pistorius makes last bid to be eligible for this year's Olympics

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE, NEW YORK

Oscar Pistorius, the sprinting double-amputee who was barred from able-bodied competition last month, is making his final bid to be eligible to qualify for the Olympic Games.

Pistorius initiated an appeal on Wednesday before the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland a month after the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), track and field's governing world body, ruled that his carbon fiber prosthetic blades gave him an unfair advantage.

The IAAF's decision was informed by a scientific study it sponsored in November. Pistorius agreed to be tested for three days in Cologne, Germany, under the supervision of Peter Brueggemann, a professor at German Sport University.

The professor concluded that the prosthetics, known as Cheetahs, were more efficient than a human ankle. He also found that they could return energy in maximum speed sprinting and that Pistorius was able to keep pace with certain able-bodied sprinters while expending about 25 percent less energy.

Now the Court of Arbitration, an international panel that has the final say over legal matters in sports, will hear lawyers argue that the study was not enough to make a final decision.

"The tests that were performed, we believe, were completely flawed and inadequate," said Jeffrey Kessler, a lawyer from the law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf, which has agreed to lead the appeal pro bono. "If proper tests are done, they will demonstrate that all his devices allow him to do is compete, not give him a competitive advantage."

Pistorius, a South African, was born without the fibula in his lower legs and with defects in his feet. His legs were amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old.

Pistorius has set Paralympic world records in the 100m, 200m, and 400m, but he has not met the automatic qualifying standard for the Olympics -- 45.55 seconds.

Kessler said his legal team was trying to resolve the appeal as quickly as possible so Pistorius could resume his efforts to qualify for the Beijing Olympics in August.

"But the main thing is to get Oscar to be eligible to compete in able-bodied events first," Pistorius' agent Peet Van Zyl said.

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