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Double amputee allowed to compete for Olympic berth


PKBadger

http://sports.espn.go.com/oly/trackandfield/news/story?id=3398915

 

 

I wanted to start a thread about this to get others' reactions. Obviously, I feel bad for the guy. But I don't think he should be allowed to compete if he's running on carbon-fiber blades instead of human legs.

 

The story refers to independent tests run by MIT professors that prove there is no biomechanical advantage provided by the running blades. However, doesn't the fact that this man has no legs below the knee automatically prevent him from suffering an injury (like a calf strain), which IS possible for the other participants? That in itself is an "advantage", in my view.

 

Frankly, this is why the Paralympics were developed in the first place. This man was dealt a bad hand in life - that really sucks, and believe me, I sympathize. I just feel that this sets a very dangerous precedent for the integrity of the Olympic Games going forward.

 

Agree/disagree?

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This is actually very complex subject.

MIT professors can claim that he has no advantage using the carbon-fiber blades. But what about in the future, when technology advances further? At some point, bionic legs will be an advantage.

It gets pretty hairy when you start dealing with the energy that the blades return (the "spring" effect) versus how a ankle & foot works on a human body. They try to limit the amount of energy return - but they don't know the exact amount that an actual human leg returns.

In addition, there is the problem of "running tall". How tall is this runner?

You could fit him with prosthetic blades that would make him 5'7" or with blades that make him 6'3". That would be a huge difference in how long/big his blades are - potentially giving him an amazing advantage. It is my understanding that they adjust your height based on how tall you "would be" with real legs. But that isn't an exact science either and several amutees have accused others of "running tall".

I hate to say it. But I think he has to be disqualified.

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His blades could bend/break. He can still suffer all sorts of other common injuries like stitches, strains and muscle pulls anywhere else on his body, including his thighs. Using the blades isn't more energy efficient then legs, and in all probability more inefficient, so whatever "advantage" he gains by not having his lower legs are easily made up for by the blades.
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KegStand81 wrote:

 

Frankly, this is why the Paralympics were developed in the first place. This man was dealt a bad hand in life - that really sucks, and believe me, I sympathize. I just feel that this sets a very dangerous precedent for the integrity of the Olympic Games going forward.

 

Agree/disagree?

 

I think that's kind of like saying that a woman couldn't compete in a PGA event because "that's what the LPGA is for". I understand the argument, but in the end, it comes down to whether or not they're good enough. If he is, I'm all for it.
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I think that's kind of like saying that a woman couldn't compete in a PGA event because "that's what the LPGA is for". I understand the argument, but in the end, it comes down to whether or not they're good enough. If he is, I'm all for it.

The problem with that thinking is that, absent artificial prosthesis, he isn't good enough to run in the Olympic games. This is by no means the only issue of technology affecting olympic performance: Olympic swimsuits were a minor subject of debate during the 2004 games, steroids in Olympic competition date back more than 20 years, and I have no clue when the Olympic athletes stopped using wooden tennis rackets.

 

My biggest problem with having this man compete is determining that balance between disadvantage and competitive advantage. In this case, the runner uses carbon fiber blades....giving him an competitive advantage over anyone using wood, plastic, graphite, steel, aluminum, titanium, etc., for their prosthesis. How does one determine what technology will give this runner parity with Olympic-level athletes? (...and does that basis for comparison essentially establish parity where it may not otherwise exist?) Finally, what happens in 20 years when there's a substance that's better than carbon fiber? (Does the runner automatically get the most advantageous equipment, or can a level of equivalence be locked in?)

 

I'll be the first to admit: if the things looked more like human legs, it probably wouldn't bother me as much. I'd love for him to be able to compete; I just don't know enough about the issue (nor, honestly, do I care to) to say that his competing would still be fair to the other competitors.

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I assume the Olympic competition committee evaluated the carbon fiber replacement legs for any semblance of competitive advantage. So I have no issue with him racing in the Olympics. My assumption (yeah I know) is that the committee will limit mechnical advantages to what the normal advantage of normal limbs would be.
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Like others, I think the potential problem would be in opening a Pandora's Box in that it will be hard to judge every single case exhaustively to see if there's an advantage. The question that must be asked is how plausible and sizable an advantage must be before it's not allowed. That threshold, you'd think, would be very hard to define.
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I would guess that the bottom 2/3 of your legs weigh a bit more than do carbon fiber replacements. Just a guess though.

 

 

I agree. I feel bad for the guy, but am glad he is doing great and living a "normal" life or as close to one as possible. I don't, however, think he should be allowed to run in the Olympics.

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I guess I just can't wrap my mind around how not having legs would give someone an advantage in sprinting. If you look at most Olympic sprinters, most of them are pretty big and muscly dudes, not skinny guys who try to weigh as little as possible. I could maybe see this guy's legs being a problem in a marathon, but not a 400m.

 

There is the slippery slope argument, but I highly doubt we'll see that many amputees who are fast enough to come close to qualifying for the Olympics. Even this guy probably won't make it, and he's a Paralympic world record holder. If a guy like this comes around once every 50 years, I don't see it being that big of an administrative headache to look at everyone on a case-by-case basis.

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I guess I just can't wrap my mind around how not having legs would give someone an advantage in sprinting. If you look at most Olympic sprinters, most of them are pretty big and muscly dudes, not skinny guys who try to weigh as little as possible. I could maybe see this guy's legs being a problem in a marathon, but not a 400m.

 

There is the slippery slope argument, but I highly doubt we'll see that many amputees who are fast enough to come close to qualifying for the Olympics. Even this guy probably won't make it, and he's a Paralympic world record holder. If a guy like this comes around once every 50 years, I don't see it being that big of an administrative headache to look at everyone on a case-by-case basis.

The diference is that this guy can have the arms, core, and upper leg strength of other runners but be lighter due to his situation. That is certainly an advantage. He gets all the strength that the other runners do without all the weight.

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I guess I just can't wrap my mind around how not having legs would give someone an advantage in sprinting. If you look at most Olympic sprinters, most of them are pretty big and muscly dudes, not skinny guys who try to weigh as little as possible. I could maybe see this guy's legs being a problem in a marathon, but not a 400m.

 

There is the slippery slope argument, but I highly doubt we'll see that many amputees who are fast enough to come close to qualifying for the Olympics. Even this guy probably won't make it, and he's a Paralympic world record holder. If a guy like this comes around once every 50 years, I don't see it being that big of an administrative headache to look at everyone on a case-by-case basis.

The diference is that this guy can have the arms, core, and upper leg strength of other runners but be lighter due to his situation. That is certainly an advantage. He gets all the strength that the other runners do without all the weight.

He's lighter, but he is also missing the muscles used in his calf to run, so his upper legs are doing the work of both the calves and the upper leg. It's probably a draw or even a disadvantage at this point.

( '_')

 

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If having carbon-fibre legs is such an advantage, why don't all of the others do it? And by all the others, I'm talking about other top-class athletes who have shown to do anything to shave 0.01 off of their time.
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I don't want to come off as insensitive and when I first heard this story I couldn't believe that they were thinking about not letting him compete, but the more I thought about it, the more complex I realized the issue is. At what point does sport say that bionic or non-living body parts convey an unfair advantage? Perhaps it doesn't in this case, but we all know that technology will just keep getting better and better. What about a pitcher who loses his hand in an accident and has some sort of jai alai shoot implanted on his injured arm who can then throw 130mph? Of course, on the other hand, how many current players have had injuries mended with titanium plates under the skin? I'm sure that non-natural addition to the body improves their performance relative to the body's natural recuperative powers.
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Here's my perspective: I did a long distance race this past Saturday and one of my rivals was way ahead of me, far out of sight. Suddenly a hlaf-mile from the finish he comes back into view and I'm able to fly past him just before the finish. Why? Because his calf was cramping up on him. If he had artificial legs, not an issue.

 

The guy in the story doesn't have to worry about cramping, tightening, or lactic acid building up in muscles he doesn't have. Or other injuries common to tracksters: foot, Achillies (e.g. brewerjamie15).

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The guy in the story doesn't have to worry about cramping, tightening, or lactic acid building up in muscles he doesn't have. Or other injuries common to tracksters: foot, Achillies (e.g. brewerjamie15).

Wouldn't he have more lactic acid built up in his upper legs due to over working them?

( '_')

 

( '_')>⌐■-■

 

(⌐■-■)

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The guy in the story doesn't have to worry about cramping, tightening, or lactic acid building up in muscles he doesn't have. Or other injuries common to tracksters: foot, Achillies (e.g. brewerjamie15).

Wouldn't he have more lactic acid built up in his upper legs due to over working them?

Not sure if his quads are working harder than any other person, given his blades.

 

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