Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study Revives Olympic Prospects For Amputee Sprinter

Date:
May 16, 2008
Source:
Rice University
Summary:
The Court of Arbitration for Sports in Lausanne, Switzerland, has ruled that Pistorius is eligible to participate in International Association of Athletics Federations sanctioned competitions. If he qualifies for the 2008 Beijing games, Pistorius would be the first disabled athlete ever to run against able-bodied athletes in an Olympic event.

Based on Rice and MIT findings, the Court of Arbitration for Sports in Lausanne, Switzerland, has ruled that Pistorius is eligible to participate in International Association of Athletics Federations sanctioned competitions. If he qualifies for the 2008 Beijing games, Pistorius would be the first disabled athlete ever to run against able-bodied athletes in an Olympic event.

A world-renowned team of experts in biomechanics and physiology from six universities, led by Professor Hugh Herr of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab, refute scientific claims that the prostheses worn by Oscar Pistorius, a 21-year-old South African bilateral amputee track athlete, provide him with an unfair advantage in the 400-meter race. Their conclusions were based on data collected at the Rice University Locomotion Laboratory, under the direction of Professor Peter Weyand. Pistorius hopes to run in the 400-meter race at the Beijing Olympics this summer.

Based on the team’s findings, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland, has ruled that Pistorius is eligible to participate in International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) sanctioned competitions. If he qualifies for the 2008 Beijing games, Pistorius would be the first disabled athlete ever to run against able-bodied athletes in an Olympic event.

The team’s findings were presented to the CAS April 29-30 by Herr and Professor Rodger Kram of the University of Colorado at Boulder, and provided the foundation for Pistorius’ appeal to overturn the IAAF decision that previously banned him from running against able-bodied athletes in races that are governed by IAAF rules. The team's findings were presented at the CAS, where Pistorius was represented by the international law firm of Dewey & LeBoeuf on a pro-bono basis.

In addition to Herr, Weyand and Kram, the panel of experts included Professor Matthew Bundle from the University of Wyoming, an expert in the energetics and mechanics of sprinting performance; Craig McGowan, from the University of Texas at Austin, a leading authority on muscle, tendon and joint mechanics;

Alena Grabowski, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an expert in human locomotor energetics and biomechanics; and Jean-Benoξt Morin from the University of Saint-Etienne, an expert in the mechanics of human running performance.

None received compensation for their research or participation in the hearing. The authors plan to submit the study to a peer-reviewed journal now that the legal case has been settled. 

The scientific team was asked to evaluate the IAAF’s initial claim that the Cheetah Flex-Foot prostheses (J-shaped, high-performance prostheses used for running) worn by Pistorius give him an advantage over able-bodied runners. The team concluded that the scientific evidence put forth by the IAAF investigation to ban Pistorius was fundamentally flawed. “While an athlete’s performance in sprints of very short duration is determined almost entirely by mechanical factors, in races of longer duration, such as the 400m, performance depends on both mechanical and metabolic factors,” said Herr, a bilateral amputee who heads the MIT Media Lab’s Biomechatronics research group.

Based on this performance link, the scientists refuted the IAAF findings on two major points: the speed-duration relationship and rates of metabolic energy expenditure.

Specifically, the scientists concluded that:

  • Pistorius’ ability to maintain speed over the course of longer sprints--his speed-duration relationship--is essentially identical to that of able-bodied runners, indicating that he fatigues in the same manner as able-bodied sprinters.
  • Pistorius’ rates of metabolic energy expenditure do not differ from elite non-amputee runners. In particular, he has nearly the same running economy, or rate of oxygen consumption at submaximal speeds, and a similar maximal rate of oxygen consumption as elite non-amputee runners.

"Based on the data collected at Rice, the blades do not confer an enhanced ability to hold speed over a 400m race," Weyand said.  "Nor does our research support the IAAF's claims of how the blades provide some sort of mechanical advantage for sprinting."

“The study commissioned by the IAAF claimed that Pistorius has a 25 percent energetic advantage at 400m race speeds. That claim is specious because anaerobic energy supply cannot be quantified,” Kram said. 

In summary, the team of experts unanimously concluded that the IAAF allegations were not scientifically valid.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rice University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Rice University. "Study Revives Olympic Prospects For Amputee Sprinter." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 May 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080516103833.htm>.
Rice University. (2008, May 16). Study Revives Olympic Prospects For Amputee Sprinter. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080516103833.htm
Rice University. "Study Revives Olympic Prospects For Amputee Sprinter." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080516103833.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Freetown a City on Edge

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Freetown a City on Edge

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) — Residents of Sierra Leone's capital voice their fears as the Ebola virus sweeps through west Africa. Duration: 00:56 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
101-Year-Old Working Man Has All The Advice You Need

101-Year-Old Working Man Has All The Advice You Need

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) — Herman Goldman has worked at the same lighting store for almost 75 years. Find out his secrets to a happy, productive life. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) — Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
American Ebola Patient Apparently Improving, Outbreak Is Not

American Ebola Patient Apparently Improving, Outbreak Is Not

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) — Nancy Writebol, an American missionary who contracted Ebola, is apparently getting better, according to her husband. The outbreak, however, is not. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins