Should Oscar Pistorius be allowed to compete in the Olympics

Discussion in 'Odds & Ends' started by ninman, Aug 9, 2012.

  1. ninman

    ninman Hall of Fame

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    For those of you who don't know, Oscar is a man who had both his legs amputated as a baby. He got these devices called "blades", that allow him to run like a normal person.

    The question is, should such a person be allowed to compete against able-bodied athletes?

    In my opinion, he should not. Many people question "is it giving him an unfair advantage?". That is totally missing the point. Sport is about being able to compare like with like. I.e. The best tennis player, the best swimmer and so on.

    You cannot possibly say that a man running on blades is the same as a man running with normal legs. That very fact makes it unfair. What do you guys think?
     
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  2. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

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    Sport is about who has the talent, and backs that talent with hard work and determination.

    You can give the same sets of blades to another disabled person and chances are, s/he won't be an Olympian.

    He finished 8th in the 400M of the semifinal, what advantage?

    At the same time, finishing 8th in the semifinal of the Olympics is quite an accomplishment.

    He should be allowed and continue to compete in the Olympics. I will look forward to watch him in the 2016 Rio Games.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2012
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  3. Lazarus

    Lazarus New User

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    In a single word - no.

    I mean, one has to admire Oscar's spirit and the strength of his will, but he should not compete, IMHO.
     
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  4. Bartelby

    Bartelby G.O.A.T.

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    You can't win a slam anymore if you're not 185 cm or more, so where is the like for like there.
     
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  5. ninman

    ninman Hall of Fame

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    The tennis comparison is completely wrong. What you've basically said is "you can't be a mathematician unless you have an iq of 150+". Yes I know, an exaggeration. All tennis players are able bodied human beings who have the talent for tennis. Some people are genetically pre-disposed to being good at sport.

    If you're an endomorph you can't be thin, if you're an ectomorph you can't have big muscles. All tennis players are basically tall mesomorphs. Why is that a problem?

    Letting a man with artificial legs compete with people who have normal legs is not a level playing field, however you slice it. He should run against other people with artificial legs, then he could say that he's the fastest on artificial legs. Advantage or not, he should not be allowed to compete with fully able bodied people.
     
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  6. sapient007

    sapient007 Semi-Pro

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    aside from the physical attributes. psychologically he has nothing to loose while the rest of the runners have everything to loose resulting in a competitive edge
     
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  7. Bartelby

    Bartelby G.O.A.T.

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    Your point was not 'unfair advantage' originally, but alikeness, and now that does not work you've gone back to the 'not a level playing field' argument.
     
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  8. jmverdugo

    jmverdugo Hall of Fame

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    I think this was an experiment by the Olympic Committee, I think it was a good idea to allow Pistorious to compete this time, he wanted to compete, he is good enough to do it and do it right and it was good for the sport.

    I do not think it is unfair for anybody but Pistorious himself but if he is up to the challenge why not?? Obviously he did not blow up the competition and broke the world record or anything like that, so in his case the blades are not a big advantage. Also, It is possible to know the benefit a person would get with these devices, for instance you can calculate the extra impulse he may or may not get with them, so it is not hard to regulate the use of them in case others with similar cases want to compete too. He is just too good to compete in other disable people so the next step is to try with the fully able runners, for now this is his only option, other than to not compete at all. I think that for now is ok, and they should allow him and others in similar conditions to compete as equals as long as they qualify, if in the future if it is observable that there is in fact an advantage with the use of artificial legs and there are enough runners with artificial limbs then you can separate them but for now I think is more than ok.

    I really do not see a reason in not to allow him to compete with regular runners "just because he is different".
     
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  9. Sentinel

    Sentinel Bionic Poster

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    Yes, he should.

    We already are unequal. e.g., East Africans already have physiological advantages when it comes to distance running. Just as an example, before Said Aouita (Morocco) did any kind of athletic training, he was timed over 3000m and ran 8:15 or so. Very few men have run that timing in my country even after years of training.

    Players from developed countries have far better training, nutrition, medicine, equipment, etc compared to those from poor nations.

    We've already had a similar discussion a year or so back regarding Caster Semenya.

    There's enough people breaking the rules or blurring the line between what's normal and not through drugs, blood transfusion, altitude training (some are questioning even this now), gender/transgender etc.
     
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  10. ninman

    ninman Hall of Fame

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    But, "just because he is different", is precisely why he shouldn't be allowed to compete with able bodied runners. It's impossible to say if it's exactly the same as running with legs.

    The fact that he has no legs means that he's using different muscles and techniques to achieve the same thing. People often let their emotions rule these things. I think the IOC had a PC knee-jerk reaction, they didn't want the bad press of refusing to let a man with no legs run.

    People always "oh look at the poor man", and "he's trying to hard, so courageous" etc. That's not what competition is about. We want to know who is the fastest able-bodied person.

    A line has been crossed in my opinion. Even Michael Johnson was against it.
     
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  11. Govnor

    Govnor Professional

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    It's a nice story and I enjoyed watching him, but I'm not sure it's the right thing to do. They spend a lot of time, effort and money making sure there are no "artificial" advantages between the athletes. We all know there are natural advantages to be had, but there really isn't anything that can be done about that.

    I'm don't feel strongly about it, but it seems like two sets of rules at play here.
     
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  12. Ramon

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    You got that right. Those athletes with normal legs have a big advantage over him, so it's not a level playing field!

    Those blades are only sufficient to allow him to run normally and safely. They do nothing beyond that to give him an advantage. There are bionic legs out there with their own source of energy which would be disqualified if he were to use them. The doctors who gave him his artificial legs explained all that to the Olympic Committee, and they accepted their scientifically based explanation.

    It's really not much different from a near-sighted tennis player wearing corrective lenses or a partially deaf player wearing a hearing aid. Neither of those gives anyone an advantage over a normal person.

    We know he can run in the Special Olympics, but we all know that's doesn't have the level of prestige of the real Olympics. If those blades did give amputated runners an advantage, you'd see a lot more of them competing at the top level. Oscar Pistorius got there because he is truly exceptional, and if he had normal legs he probably would have done better.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2012
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  13. ninman

    ninman Hall of Fame

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    Wearing glasses are using artificial legs are totally different things. Wearing glasses makes someone see normally, how can you possible say that those legs allow him to walk or run normally, i.e. exactly the same as if he had legs. You can't.

    Glasses make someone see exactly the same as a person who doesn't have to wear glasses. Replacing limbs is a totally different thing from correcting sight and hearing.
     
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  14. jmverdugo

    jmverdugo Hall of Fame

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    Of course it is not the same as running with natural legs, he has blades attached to his knees! and IT IS very possible to say and to know what type of advantage he would get with a given pair of blades, they can change the composition and structural characteristics to give him more "jump" or more "traction", similar to what they do with regular shoes, but that can be regulated.

    Between fully able runners they have different techniques and styles to run too, they use different muscles in different ways and this makes a difference in the outcome, some are more efficient than others and some are faster, should they be separated too?

    It is not a PC thing (and I have no idea why you would bring that to the discussion), if he qualifies and it is not an advantage for him to run with blades then why not? "just because he is different" it is not a reason, there are more palpable and measurable things that can be a reason.

    Of course a line was crossed, but if it weren't for people willing to "cross lines" we would all still be living in caves...
     
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  15. ninman

    ninman Hall of Fame

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    Could he run without the blades?
     
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  16. jmverdugo

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    would you have had started a thread if he could? of course not, you are going out of topic here, the whole premise is if he running with blades should be allowed to compete with regular athletes.
     
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  17. Bartelby

    Bartelby G.O.A.T.

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    I agree with this argument, but youre a bit harsh on Barry.




     
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  18. ninman

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    Yes, but I can still see without glasses, just not very well. I could in theory play a tennis match without them, it would just make it a lot harder.

    He on the other hand cannot walk, let alone run without them. Which is precisely why he shouldn't be allowed to compete.

    Let me put it this way, if he wins, how much of it is to do with his skill, and how much to do with his blades? If I won Wimbledon wearing glasses, that's 100% to do with my skill, the glasses only allow me to see the ball more clearly, they don't help me swing my racquet.
     
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  19. 813wilson

    813wilson Rookie

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    No, he couldn't compete w/out the blades, so what. That isn't really the point, though. It was not the IOC that did a "PC" thing. You need to go back and understand how he got there.

    IAAC ruled he is not allowed prior to Bejing in '08. The Court of Arbitration for Sport(however it is termed) overruled that decision on appeal because he was shown to not have an unfair advantage.

    After that ruling he tried, and failed, to make the South African team in hte Men's 400. The only reason he is there now is because he qualified for the team......

    Ask yourself a few questions:
    1) heholds the worl records in several sprints competing against single amputees - though he is a double. Isn't it natural for him to see how well he can compete?

    2) Does your same thinking apply to shooting and archery? What if a competitor had an artificial limb that allowed them to draw a bow back and release? Should that person not be allowed, as well? Or braces; a downhill ski racer uses a knee brace due to injury - couldn't compete without it. Should they be allowed?

    3) Why do you care so much? The guy proved he is one of the world's fastest - not the fastest.....
     
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  20. Ramon

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    He is amputated, so obviously, it's just not possible for him to be able to run exactly the same as a person with normal legs. Those blades allow him to run as close to normal as possible without an outside source of energy.

    It's really not accurate to call them artificial legs because his are basically just blades underneath his normal knees. It would be hard to imagine someone with fully amputated legs being able to run with an outside source of energy, so that kind of a handicapped person would never be able to compete in the same way.

    If the question is whether he runs exactly the same as a normal person, then of course, the answer is "no". However, I think the Olympic Committee was more interested in knowing whether or not the blades under his knees gave him an advantage over a normal person. Obviously, no one was able to put up a serious argument that it was an advantage.
     
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  21. jmverdugo

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    Well, as far as I could tell his legs are still the ones moving the blades and not the other way around. And for the record, HE CAN walk and run without the blades (just not very well!), google him, you will see videos of him doing it.

    The good thing is now you have changed the "just because he is different" approach and move over to the real reason why he should not be allowed to run with normal runners: Blades may be an advantage for him, and I agree that if the blades are an advantage he should not be allowed - BUT, and once again, IT IS POSSIBLE to know for sure the contribution of the blades to the performance of the runner, IT IS POSSIBLE to design them to be as close as regular legs, more over, the human body can only take so much, if he would run with Super Duper legs his body could not handle it.

    On another note, did somebody already call him the Blade Runner? ;)
     
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  22. ninman

    ninman Hall of Fame

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    Yes, but that's not the point. It's about able-bodied people competing against other able-bodied people. That's why we don't let women compete against men in tennis.
     
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  23. Bartelby

    Bartelby G.O.A.T.

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    So women are not able-bodied?
     
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  24. Bartelby

    Bartelby G.O.A.T.

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    Wasn't there a female golfer who wanted to play with the men?

    If they were good enough then why not, although I think they should make their switch definitive at some point, and if so I can't see that being an attractive option.
     
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  25. 813wilson

    813wilson Rookie

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    Again, I'll ask you. Does the same apply to an archer or shooter who has an artificial limb, or part of one, that allows him or her to draw and release a bow or hold a gun or squeeze the trigger?
     
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  26. jmverdugo

    jmverdugo Hall of Fame

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    Actually you got this wrong, they do not let MEN compete against women, if a women wants to compete against men she can do it.
     
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  27. Hood_Man

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    I'm not really that concerned by this either way, it was quite nice to see him there (in an admittedly slightly patronising "isn't he doing well?" kind of way).

    Thing is, ignoring any potential benefits he does or doesn't get when he's competing for a moment, the guy can't suffer from blisters on his feet, roll an ankle, or develop shin splints (a very painful condition that can get much worse without rest), or other lower leg difficulties that might normally impact an athletes training schedule.

    In short, he can't get certain injuries that a regular athlete could.

    Without knowing how his blades are attached, I still assume they would cause him discomfort when he pushes himself at Olympic level, but discomfort, soreness and pain are hardly exclusive to an athlete requiring prosthetics.

    Its an uneven playing field, but not because of genetics, upbringing or training, but because of technology and circumstances which in this instance are unique to him. Were not comparing trainers which give one runner more bounce in their stride than their opponents (which I'm not sure are legal, but then I haven't looked).
     
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  28. hollywood9826

    hollywood9826 Semi-Pro

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    But you have to look at the other side as well. Is he able to train in the weight room at the same level to develop stronger legs? Just looking at the blades and other legs. I dont know how he can do leg extions or hamstring curls at a heavy weight. His starts are usallu pretty slow because he does not have the power in the take off phase. He might have been that way with legs as well. There is really no way to tell.

    The fact that there are thousands of people with these blades and he is the only guy should prove they dont have a positive impact on the reuslts.
     
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  29. Hood_Man

    Hood_Man Legend

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    That's the problem.

    Also there are a lot of "What if's" surrounding this, whereas my points above stand. He can't injure what he doesn't have (which sounds awful, but I can't think of any other way of saying it right now).

    How many athletes with prosthetics have tried to compete with able bodied athletes in professional competitions? A sample size of 1 doesn't prove anything.
     
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  30. pinky42

    pinky42 Rookie

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    Would an able-bodied runner be allowed to use blades in competition? If yes, let Pistorius compete. If no, then he would be allowed to use equipment that other competitors can't and should not compete.
     
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  31. Djoker

    Djoker Rookie

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    Admirable guy, but shouldn't be running in the Olympics.

    Where is the searing pain of the lactic acid in the calf muscles for him as he enters the last 100m?
    Where is the ache of the achilles and hamstring stretched to near breaking point?
    Where is the blood going that in other athletes would be supplying the muscles from the knee down? So less work for the heart to do in supplying blood to an area of the body that for him just isn't there.

    Level playing field my a**
     
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  32. Bartelby

    Bartelby G.O.A.T.

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    This is a reasonable argument, but his body is still under incredible stress and I think most still would find the lack of lower legs to be a significant disadvantage no matter what stress the lower legs are put under.



     
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  33. El Diablo

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    In a feature story done on Mr. Pistorius he was puttering around his home wearing conventional lower extremity prostheses, so his blades are apparently only used (and specifically engineered) for running. This seems patently unfair. Were he to run in his usual prosthetic legs, I think there would be little basis for contention, but the blades are specifically engineered, the designer stated in this feature, to have a spring action. Really! If Mr. Pistorius opted to compete in swimming, might he strap on a prosthesis modeled after the tail of a mako shark?
     
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  34. hollywood9826

    hollywood9826 Semi-Pro

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    I understand the injury argument, but what else does he have to do to compensate for it that someone else does not have to do?

    But there are thousands that try to qualify for the paralympics. No one has come close to WR time. Oscar basically dominates the Paralympics, he can barely make the time reqired to even be allowed to compete. They dont try to compete becuase most cant. Maybe Oscar changes that, but I doubt it. Oscar is an anomaly and I think he desvered to be there competing.



    To have a spring action to emulate a foot push off. Im sure there would be ab acceptable prosthesis for swimming. Flippers would no be. They tested the things and determined they were not unfair. Thats good enough for me.
     
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  35. El Diablo

    El Diablo Hall of Fame

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    ^^ You're too gullible. How were they tested? How exactly COULD they be tested to determine such a thing as fairness? Did they amputate a runner's legs and see if his performance was the same with both his own legs and the blades? Not to be glib about this, but that's pretty much what you'd have to do to make such a determination.
     
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  36. jmverdugo

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    It is not less work overall, his muscles from the knee up must generate the energy generated by the below knee muscles of a regular runner, hence his upper knee muscles work much more than the ones of a regular runner. The blades do not generate energy.

    Yes they spring as much as a human foot + calf would.

    If there is and obvious advantage how come he doesn't win?
     
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  37. jmverdugo

    jmverdugo Hall of Fame

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    they measure it, they simulate and then measure it again, it is called engineering. The same way the determined they are good for human use.
     
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  38. Ash_Smith

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    So, for those who think Oscar Pistorius shouldn't be allowed to compete (even though he made the qualification time) should a wheelchair tennis player not be allowed to compete on the ATP or WTA tour?
     
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  39. Ramon

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    Get an able-bodied runner to put blades under his feet. Then if he exceeds his personal best, that would prove the blades are an advantage. I doubt that would happen.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2012
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  40. ollinger

    ollinger Legend

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    Human calf and foot do not spring. In fact, joints tend to collapse a bit on impact and do not recoil back unless work is done on them by muscles. The question "if there is an obvious advantage how come he doesn't win" is surprising. Ummm, perhaps he doesn't win because he's not as good an athlete as the best competitors? If I install something on your arm that enables you to shoot baskets at a 40% rate whereas before you could only shoot 20%, would you say the device gave you no advantage because you didn't win when you had a shooting competition with Kobe Bryant, who shot 45%? So the fact that he didn't win does not mean he isn't given an advantage.
     
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  41. hollywood9826

    hollywood9826 Semi-Pro

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    But the "Spring" of the blades is meant to mock the action of the foot getting pushed off by the calf and whatever other muscles are needed.
     
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  42. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    He won his case on appeal. I watched on NBC the MIT prof of the Prosthetics lab (who is himself a double amputee) and he explained how the prosthetic is not "active.", meaning no sensors and no computation.

    On another matter, we may have to soon address the same issue with Nadal.
     
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  43. ollinger

    ollinger Legend

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    The spring action of the prosthesis may be intended to mimic an effect of muscles, but muscles fatigue and lose some of their spring in a race, something not likely to happen to the springiness of the prosthesis.
     
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  44. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Why is Tipsarevic allowed to wear glasses?
     
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  45. r2473

    r2473 Legend

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    That is a strange way to look at things.

    So because one part of this guys leg isn't prone to the same type of muscle fatigue, you would reason that this gives him and unfair advantage?

    I have to say, in all my years of running I've never thought or felt:

    "Damn!! If only the portion of my leg below my knees could stay springy, I could run faster for longer".

    What about the other parts of my body that have fatigued? Don't they then become the "bottlenecks" to performance (as if premature fatiguing of the portion of my leg below my knee was EVER the bottleneck to anyone's performance)?
     
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  46. r2473

    r2473 Legend

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    Now, do these prosthetic devices propel him forward better than legs? Why not just measure his stride. Surely if he was being propelled, his stride would be longer (is that an advantage necessarily anyway).

    Or, is he expending less effort because of this spring effect? Well, this type of thing can be measured as well to a certain extent.

    In the end, I kinda doubt we are going to see double amputees dominating the olympics anytime soon because of this amazing advantage they now have.

    Who knows, maybe parents will be chopping off their childrens legs so they can later win olympic gold.
     
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  47. enishi1357

    enishi1357 Rookie

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    if i have to run, i rather have real legs than blade.

    if those blade is so effective then how come i dun see other people around having prosthesis arm where they can punch twice as effective than normal people.

    simply put they can't because it is not up to that point yet.

    different story with PED. I think irrational fears is what all this was about.
     
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  48. Ramon

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    The theory that the spring blades are faster than feet can be proven. As I said earlier, an able-bodied runner can put them on.

    It's not really a ridiculous suggestion. He doesn't have to cut off his feet. He can secure them to his shins, put the blades under his feet, making him a few inches taller, and walk around in them for a few months to get used to them. He doesn't even have to compete. A stopwatch is sufficient.

    If any world class runner seriously thinks he can run faster that way, he can do that, and if he succeeds you won't see any more amputated runners competing against able-bodied runners with those blades. I wouldn't bet on it myself.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2012
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  49. JohnnyCracker

    JohnnyCracker Semi-Pro

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    one guy
    one guy out of the entire world made it to the olympics with prosthetic legs
    the paranoia is a bit much
     
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  50. heartman

    heartman Rookie

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    This is ridiculous - he does not have any feet, and he is advantaged? What are you naysayers smoking? You must be kidding...
     
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