News26 Jul 2007

IAAF and Oscar Pistorius to co-operate on future research


IAAF Logo (© c)

MonteCarloThe IAAF has decided to carry out full biomechanical analysis of the Paralympic Champion Oscar Pistorius (RSA), in an effort to obtain scientific data about the prosthetics that Oscar, who is a double amputee, uses when he runs.

The IAAF has already carried out one element of this research, during Oscar's 400m race with able bodied athletes on 13 July in the Rome Olympic Stadium.

Video analysis was made of Oscar and the other runners by a team from the Sports Science Institute of the Italian Olympic Committee, led by Dr Faina Marcello, the Director of the Sport Science Institute, with the support of four colleagues. Dr Elio Locatelli, the IAAF Director of Member Services supervised the recording of data.

As a result of these initial findings, it has been agreed that the IAAF will fund further laboratory research to investigate and define the properties of Oscar's prosthetic blades.

Studies will be made to help identify whether Oscar has technical/mechanical advantages as a result of his prosthetics. Amongst other things, the scientists would like to measure his energy consumption with 400m loads and compare that with data of able-bodied athletes of the same speed. Secondly, they would like to measure Oscar's running mechanics and compare that with an able bodied runner using force plates, 3D-kinematics etc.

This research will be carried out by one of the world's leading independent experts in athletics biomechanics - Professor Peter Bruggemann - from the Institute of Biomechanics at the German Sport University of Cologne in Germany. Professor Bruggemann has conducted many scientific studies at previous Olympic Games and World Championships as well as the Paralympics. Oscar, and his scientific advisers, will work with Professor Bruggemann over a couple of days of testing, with the data analysis expected to be take approximately 3 weeks.

Although there is no date yet fixed for this research, it will not begin until October 2007 at the earliest.

President Lamine Diack said today: "I am a great admirer of the Paralympic movement, and I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Oscar on all his achievements to date. Yet now that Oscar has improved his times to the extent that he is able to compete in open athletics competitions, the IAAF has a duty to make sure that his prosthetics are analysed carefully. We cannot permit technical aids that give one athlete an unfair advantage over another. Personally, I am very pleased that Oscar has agreed to do this research with Professor Bruggemann, as the results will have very important implications for sports science."

Oscar Pistorius has welcomed the initiative: “I am pleased to be working with the IAAF on conducting the appropriate research so that we can jointly come to a fair and educated conclusion. There is much at stake personally and for the future of all amputee athletes and I applaud the IAAF for recognizing that. By aligning experts from prosthetics and biomechanics I believe we will be able to put this issue to rest one way or the other.”

Some background Information:

IAAF Rule 144.2

Relates to the use of" technical aids" during competition.

This rule prohibits:

(e) Use of any technical device that incorporates springs, wheels or any other element that provides the user with an advantage over another athlete not using such a device.

(f) Use of any appliance that has the effect of increasing the dimension of a piece of equipment beyond the permitted maximum in the Rules or that provides the user with an advantage which he would not have obtained using the equipment specified in the Rules.

It is important to underline that the IAAF does not have, nor contemplate, a ban on prosthetic limbs, but rather technical aids.

The aim of the rule change is not an attempt to prevent disabled athletes from using any artificial limbs or competing against able-bodied athletes if they are good enough to do so. For this reason, the IAAF is now compiling research on the technical qualities of prosthetics.