“Blade Runner” must run relay first leg – IAAF

DAEGU, South Korea, (Reuters) – Double amputee Oscar Pistorius must run the first leg for South Africa if he is to  take part in the 4x400m relay at the world championships,  athletics governing body said yesterday.

“This person is a particular case,” IAAF head Lamine Diack  said of the athlete who runs with carbon fibre prosthetic blades  in place of his lower legs, which were amputated before he was a  year old due to a congenital condition.

“The only thing we said to the South African federation is  that if he wants to run in the relay, he must run the first leg  to avoid danger to other athletes.”

Oscar Pistorius

The 24-year-old, who will become the first double amputee  athlete to compete at the world championships, said he would be  proud just to be picked for the relay team and would run  whichever leg team management told him to.

“We haven’t confirmed the positions of the relay, or if I’m  even in the relay yet,” Pistorius told reporters, adding that he  knew which positions made the “best sense”.

“If I get any opportunity to run in the relay I’ll be proud  just to do that. I’ve run in many relays in different legs and  I’ve never had a problem or an incident so I’ll just listen to  what they say and give it my best.”

Pistorius first competed against able-bodied athletes in  2007 but the IAAF then amended its rules to ban the use of “any  technical device that incorporates springs, wheels or any other  element that provides a user with an advantage over another  athlete not using such a device”.

In the following year the world governing body said  scientific research had shown Pistorious enjoyed an advantage  over able-bodied athletes and banned him from competitions held  under their rules.

However, the decision was over-ruled by the Court of  Arbitration for Sport, making Pistorius eligible for the 2008  Beijing Olympics although he was unable to qualify for the South  African team, winning gold medals instead in the Paralympic 100,  200 and 400.

The South African accepted that there would always be a  certain degree of controversy on the issue. He said he had  “great respect” for Diack and the IAAF and that all he could do  was to follow the rules, train hard and do his best on the  track.

Michael Johnson, who won the world 400 title four times and  still holds the world record of 43.18, said he supported  Pistorius competing in Daegu.

“I’ve been clear about my position from the very beginning.  I’m supportive of Oscar because the rules state that he can  compete,” said the American.

“My position on the rule is that probably more work should  be done. Now that there’s this controversy again I think people  are unsure.”

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