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« Champion = workaholic | Main | What do you think about Oscar Pistorius? »

May 17, 2008



Not much of a solution, to be honest. Yes, let us give him a set of fully functional legs and then send him back in time so that he train as if he had these legs all along. Then, we can simply fast forward to now. Right.

The mechanical and biological advantages that he has cannot simply be overcome by increasing the levers and adding weight. The blades bring a complex function of many variables - (which is what makes things difficult in the legal realm here) - and thus an equivalent complexity exists in a solution for "leveling the playing field," so to speak.

In all seriousness, this _is_ a Pandora's Box situation. It's not being pessimistic, it's being realistic. How can anyone see a future for sport that cannot be described as "record breaking in the name of science." Sadly, I expect that the unbounded increase of technological complexity will continue to pass under legal scrutiny due to a combination of the "burden of proof" that exists in the courts and the "CSI Effect."

Ross Tucker

Hi Bryan

Ross Tucker here, author of the Science of Sport.

Really great post, I enjoyed the read. I would agree with most of what you have said. Perhaps the two things I would point out are:

This is very much about money. I have training in Sports science and in Management studies, where I did courses in marketing and economics. What I have learned is that THE FUNDAMENTAL question you must always ask is "What is the incentive?".

And here, the incentive is money, fame, power, you name it. That is a personal opinion, borne of some direct, personal relationships I have with Pistorius and people connected to him (I am a South African, in the sports industry).

The money, and these other incentives, has driven every decision taken to date, and also provides the backdrop to that scientific testing that Pistorius had done. His "proof" was gathered in a top-secret testing session in March, with not a single representative from the IAAF, IOC or any other independent party. Given the money involved, this is a massive, massive, insurmountable problem for me - the "science" produced by this testing lacks any shred of credibility.

Your approach to the issue is spot-on though, and it gives me great pleasure to read an objective, thoughtful response, which in this very emotive issue is a refreshing take! One thing I might add, is that last year, when everyone was discussing the testing that needed to be done, my suggestion was simply to give Pistorius the same carbon fibre prosthetics that they used in the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, and see what happens. If you do that, it will be obvious how large the effect is on performance.

Now, jump forward another 12 years, to 2020, and ask yourself: If the technology can make that big a difference between 1996 and 2008, how big can it grow before 2020? That's what this verdict has done - technology is unleashed, and heaven help the sport of athletics.


Ross Tucker

Oh, one other thing - just to let you know that I've edited my last post and I provided a link to this article from my article.

I think you have covered all the points really well, and while I disagree that it's NOT about those things on your list (because of course, each of them is a crucial consideration), I think your approach to the problem is good!

Thanks for visiting!

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