Double amputee sprinter banned from Beijing Olympics

South Africa's Oscar Pistorius is a double amputee who runs on special carbon blades attached to his legs. MP is also making a documentary about this athlete they call �The Blade Runner.� LM �what's the documentary called?� MP �The Fastest Man on No Legs.� LM �which tells us a little bit about his athleticism. Tell us the story in general of this 21 year old runner.� MP �Well 20 years ago his parents had to decide whether to amputate Oscar below the knee. He was born without the fibula and others bones in his legs. So if you imagine the thin bone going down the inside of your leg, he didn't have that, so he was never going to be able to support his weight. He grew up a normal boy with an older brother and a younger sister, did everything they did, incredibly competitive, incredibly strong, and really the word �disabled� means nothing to him. So really competing in disabled events was anathema to him, not competing in abled events, and I think that's why this will come as such a blow to him.� LM �the carbon fiber blades then that he walks on and runs un apparently very well, describe the blades for us.� MP �They're J-shaped, they're layers of carbon fiber pressed together and then they fit on with a prosthetic over his knee joint which is a small bone going down from his knee joint, and then the blade is bolted onto that prosthetic. And they act as a spring, just as the human leg acts as a spring. Now the argument is that he's getting more spring.� LM �Well obviously he runs very fast with the prosthetics. How much faster is he than an abled bodied athlete?� MP �well he's not, and that's, a lot of these things are hypothetical with regards to the Olympics because he hasn't actually qualified at the moment. He needs to run nearly a second quicker to qualify for the 400 meters. He's three seconds slower than, say, Michael Johnson was at the current Olympics, so he's a long way off the best but he's five seconds faster than anyone in the Para-Olympics. They take place two weeks after the Olympics and he burst onto the scene there in 2004, and it was actually one of the Americans helping him with his legs who was also a competitor there. So this was all at the time and it might yet end up in court.� LM �it might end up in court because as we said the International Association of Athletics Federation has said he cannot compete in the Beijing Olympics later on this year, but it's not because he didn't qualify. What was their reasoning behind disqualifying him because of the blades?� MP �their idea is that he gets an advantage from these blades. They then did some tests and did some formal, independent testing which Oscar agreed to. They are now saying, the doctor I think came with no angle, he wasn't being paid by the IAAF. What he has said is that Oscar's blades are far more energy efficient than the human leg, and a lot more bio-mechanic experts would not be surprised by that because the human leg is actually quite inefficient in the running process if you compare it to, say, a horse's leg or a kangaroo's leg. In the spectrum of evolution, the ankle is not very good at energy transfer.� LM �so what is Oscar Pistorius say about that reasoning and what is he going to do?� MP �Well I think quite rightly he said not everything's been tested and it's very difficult to legislate for the unique in sports or in anything, and Oscar is unique. He's had such an even amputation below both legs, it happened so young, I think he's quite right to want more tests. I think the jury is still out. There weren't any tests on his start, it's not surprising that he's able to run more efficiently as the race goes on because he starts so poorly. I think in terms of the raw mechanics of the blade, they're saying the blade is close to three times higher in returning energy than the human leg. So the onus is now on Oscar to show that those tests don't tell the whole story. I think what we can say is he is an extraordinary athlete and he won't let this shake him. So he doesn't have that kind of doubts, that kind of peripheral vision that most people have. He won't simply back down.�