Pistorius concerns to be assessed

  • Last Updated: September 3 2012, 17:34 BST

Oscar Pistorius' concerns over the length of rivals' prosthetic blades could result in the International Paralympic Committee amending their rules.

Alan Fonteles Oliveira and Oscar Pistorius at the medal ceremony

South African Pistorius publicly questioned regulations governing blades immediately after being beaten to Paralympic gold in the T44 200 metres last night by Brazilian rival Alan Fonteles Oliveira.

Pistorius apologised for the timing of his criticism at the Olympic Stadium and is now set to meet with the IPC for discussions following his first 200m defeat in nine years. He had won the Paralympic title in Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008.

"Last night was not the place to get out the rule book and propose how potentially Oscar Pistorius would like to change our rule book," IPC communications director Craig Spence said.

"What we need to do is have a formal meeting with all the experts in the room.

"He might propose some changes, but out of credit to the athlete, who has done so much for the Paralympic movement, those comments he has shouldn't fall on deaf ears.

"That's why we're more than willing to meet him in the foreseeable future."

The 25-year-old four-time Paralympic champion first raised objections over a rival's prosthetic running blades six weeks ago. That was not Oliveira, but the IPC were aware the issue could arise at the London 2012 Games. Spence stopped short of confirming if Pistorius could be punished for his outburst.

The furore was sparked after Oliveira came from well behind to win gold in 21.45 seconds, leaving Pistorius to settle for silver in 21.52secs. Had Pistorius matched his world record heat run of 21.30 he would have won gold.

In a statement this morning, Pistorius apologised for the timing of his comments, but not the sentiment.

"I do believe that there is an issue here and I welcome the opportunity to discuss with the IPC but I accept that raising these concerns immediately as I stepped off the track was wrong," he said.

"I am a proud Paralympian and believe in the fairness of sport. I am happy to work with the IPC who obviously share these aims."

It is understood Pistorius' objections relate to the formula used to calculate the maximal allowable height for each athlete.

The complex formula calculates the predicted height of an individual, plus 3.5% to allow for the on-toes running position.

It is applied in T42 (above knee amputee), T43 (double below knee amputee) and T44 (single below knee amputee) competition. Prostheses are then custom made.

Spence, who insisted all athletes in the T44 200m were within permitted parameters, said: "The measurement is based on proportionality of the body. Clearly we don't want athletes running on stilts."

IPC medical and scientific director Peter van der Vliet added: "We do have confidence in how these formulas are put together and which processes are in place."

Pistorius apparently does not and first raised objections at the IPC Athletics World Championships in New Zealand in January 2011.

Pistorius is a double below-the-knee amputee, a T43 runner, as is Oliveira and American Blake Leeper, who was third.

The South African's maximal allowable height is 1.93m, yet he chooses to stand at 1.84m in his Ossur Cheetah blades, which were subject to stringent testing in 2008 as he sought to compete in Olympic and other open competition. Oliveira's limit is 1.85m and Leeper's 1.90m.

The IPC anticipated Pistorius would raise his concerns publicly after the defeat and that consultation will now continue through the South African Paralympic Committee.

Pistorius has been at the centre of blade controversy before and in 2008 took the International Association of Athletics Federations to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, challenging their assertion his blades caused an unfair advantage. He was successful, but missed the qualification target for the Beijing Olympics. Last month he competed at 400m in the London 2012 Olympics, reaching the semi-finals.

The Pistorius case is the only time the IAAF have had to address the issue of prostheses and Van de Vliet admitted it was difficult to ensure the rules were applied across both formats.

"Ultimately we have two governing bodies involved and it becomes quite a challenge to harmonise rules," Van de Vliet added.

"It is far more important, and that's what we achieved in Paralympic sport, that we do have our own set of technical rules, independent of any variation or alteration due to rule changes in other governing bodies."

Any IPC rule changes are considered only after reflecting on available scientific literature as well as after full consultation with all participating nations and athletes.

Van de Vliet added: "With science continuously evolving it's our responsibility to on occasion revisit these (rules).

"In the period immediately post-Paralympic Games is one of these opportunities."

Meanwhile, the IPC will endeavour to have distinct, rather than mixed, classes at the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016.

Pistorius' compatriot Arnu Fourie was the leading single, above-knee amputee in the 200m, clocking a T44 world record of 22.49, as he finished fourth.