IPC Position Statement on IAAF's Commissioned Research on Oscar Pistorius

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) offers the following position statement in light of the recent media attention generated by a scientific study initiated by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) that reports that sprint performance with Cheetah prostheses offers clear mechanical advantages compared to the sprint performance of able-bodied athletes who are capable of similar levels of performance. 14 Jan 2008 By IPC

As a Paralympic Athlete, South African Oscar Pistorius is seeking a new competitive horizon and these aspirations have propelled him into competition with some of the fastest athletes in the world.

The IPC is highly supportive of Oscar’s superb achievement as an elite athlete, an attribute he shares with many Paralympic athletes who compete at the highest levels of sporting excellence. We also recognize the right of Oscar and all other athletes to question the rules and regulations that impact their performance.

In July 2007, the IAAF invited Oscar to undergo biomechanical and exercise physiological analysis, in an effort to collect scientific data on the impact of prosthetics on athlete running performance and to assess whether their use contravenes used IAAF competition rule 144.2 which prohibits the use of technical aids by athletes during competition.

The tests held on 12 to 13 November 2007 at the German Sports University in Cologne, Germany, were commissioned by the IAAF. The IPC was not involved in the research project.

After receiving and reviewing the official report, the IPC acknowledges the scientific validity of the tests conducted and the outcome of the research project. However, the use of an assistive device should not only be considered in solely biomechanical terms. It is recommended that further investigations take into consideration other aspects such as an examination of the energy loss or generation of the corresponding knee and hip joints as well as the impact of the amputation site contact with the prostheses.

The IPC acknowledges the autonomy of the IAAF to interpret and make decisions impacting their federation’s competitions based on their initiative to obtain these results.

Furthermore, the IPC recognizes that each International Sport Federation has the right to define the eligibility and sport equipment rules governing its competitions, including the Olympic Games, to ensure fair competition for all athletes.

However, equipment plays a critical role in many sports. Equipment evolves and it is the responsibility of international federations like the IPC and the IAAF to stay abreast of these developments. Rules, regulations and performance standards must be developed to ensure that equipment is safe, fair and universally accessible for athletes to achieve standards of excellence.

The IPC is seeking to further collaborate with all relevant parties to ensure that the right approach is taken to establishing rules and regulations that promote fair competition including with regard to the application of sports equipment.

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