Amputee athlete aims for Olympics.

South African runner Oscar Pistorius is less than a second off the qualifying time for a slot on the 2008 Olympic track team, despite the fact that he is a double amputee. However, the International Association of Athletics Federations has already moved to block him from the Olympics, with a new ruling banning "technical aids", referring to his prosthetic running feet. Pistorius only began his track career three years ago at the 2004 Paralympics, and has already racked up three world records. Push play or go to YouTube. Link to story. -via Arbroath

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With the rapid advance of technology, it seems inevitable that many major sports will someday split into 2 classes -- high-performance leagues (enhanced by artificial body parts, steroids, and the like) and traditional leagues, embraced by "purists," with the former likely created by people like Pistorius who get fed up with the restrictions of leagues like the Olympics.

What will be interesting to see is if the purists will allow technological enhancements that are currently accepted, such as Gatorade.
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I'm probably gonna take a lot of heat for this, but I can see why they want to ban him.

As prosthetics engineering keeps improving, there is no doubt that engineers can come up with a better "running leg" than humans are born with. Such a prosthetic can be *highly* specialized for the event the athlete competes in. So maybe a "running leg" wouldn't be great for daily living, but it might be GREAT for sprinting. Pistorius is a sprinter in fact, and his lower legs are made of carbon fibre -- probably MUCH lighter than human legs and helped even more by the fact that the running shoe can be designed right into the prothetics. Low mass = low inertia and that lets a sprinter sprint *really* well. Additionally, the dimensions of the legs themselves can be redesigned away from the proportions of the normal human body to optimize them for sprinting -- maybe a short "foot" and a long lower leg is best or maybe the reverse. No "able bodied" (!) runner has this knob to turn. The fact that Pistorius *never competed* in track events before 3 years ago and is now (nearly) Olympic caliber should tell you something.

And even if high tech prosthetics engineering isn't yet quite up to biological legs, they will be sooner or later (ala Steve Austin - he could run 60 mph!). How do you draw the line in what is acceptable and what is not? It is best that they set the policy sooner rather than later. The worst thing would be to outlaw them after people start winning medals - there wind up being a whole slew of questionable "champions" that way.
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