Carbon-fibre legs not an enhancement

Sunday, 20 July, 2008

Oscar Pistorius, the runner nicknamed the ‘Blade Runner’ for his carbon-fibre prosthetic legs, couldn’t run fast enough to beat his anatomically natural competitors and qualify for the Olympics. He only ran 400m in 46.25 seconds, and needed to run it in under 45.55 seconds to qualify.

But that’s of course the only reason they let him compete; it was shown that his legs were not an enhancement*, because he used just as much oxygen (and therefore energy) to run as any other Olympic-level runners. If those prosthetics were good enough to cause him to win, he wouldn’t have been allowed to compete.

Pistorius is now looking forward, aiming to compete in the 2012 Olympics. Even though the prosthetics technology may have gotten better by then, it’s probably unlikely they will let him use the newer models. If he did, he’d be better than the natural sprinters – he’d be enhanced. And we just can’t have that (except for the Australian swimmers, with their special swimsuits).

*’Enhancement’ here is defined in this case as having an advantage over other runners without prosthetics. These legs may be an enhancement under other definitions.



  1. I agree with the article. Oscar’s legs were never really an advancement anyway. Just an opening for someone who really wanted to run and was given the opportunity by science. I find it unfair when people decide that people with disabilities cannot compete in competitions with help from science.

  2. I think these pages are excellent

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