IAAF change stance on Pistorius lane issue

John Weaver, Sapa-AFP | 01 August, 2012 08:48

South African double amputee Oscar Pistorius is free to run in any lane in the 4x400m Olympic relay, IAAF president Lamine Diack said on Tuesday, changing his previous stance on the issue.

Oscar Pistorius - the inspirational "Blade Runner"

At last year’s world championships in South Korea, the IAAF said Pistorius would have to run the first leg to “avoid danger” to other runners before handing over the baton to the second runner, who then breaks the lane order.

Pistorius, who runs with carbon fibre prosthetic running blades, ran the first leg of the heats in Daegu in 2011 but was left out of the final line-up as South Africa won silver.

But speaking ahead of the start of athletics events later this week at the London Olympics, the IAAF chief said although the first leg was a better option, it was up to the South African federation to decide.

“It is better that he runs the first leg because in the first leg you are in lane,” said Diack. “There is no contact until you transmit the baton.”  He pointed out that Pistorius ran the third leg of the relay in the recent African championships in Benin.

“We cannot tell them ’you have to put him in this place’,” Diack told reporters following an IAAF council meeting in London, saying it was no problem for the IAAF.

Pistorius will become the first double amputee athlete to compete at an able-bodied Olympics when he lines up in the men’s 400m. He will also race in the 4x400m relay.

The 25-year-old, known as ’Blade Runner’ because of his blades, has not been universally welcome with some observers believing he has an unfair advantage.

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Footnote: After striving to qualify for the 400 metres at the London Olympics for six years, Oscar Pistorius believes he will now be better placed to run at the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016. The South African, who wears carbon fibre blades, will become the first double amputee to compete in the Olympics

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