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Tag:Track and Field
Posted on: July 11, 2012 3:48 pm

The Created Oscar Pistorius Controversy

Matt Norlander is at it on this site, trying to stir up debate with his over the top take on double amputee Oscar Pistorius inclusion by RSA on the 400M event as part of RSA's T&F team in London. I personally like Gregg Doyel's take on this much better.

It far more embodies what I think. I was actually in the process of expressing Doyel's POV after reading Norlander's article, but then I ran across Doyel's piece of work.

With that being said, I'll drop that part of the opinion except to add one minor thing.

With all of the hub-bub about physically altered athletes getting an unfair advantage through PED's (or now even genetics perhaps); is this not merely a physical alteration via surgery or birth?

There's likely a reason that East Africans to well at distances and West Africans/Caribbean blacks do well at sprints- their genetic makeup gives them advantages versus others when they train.

Big deal you say. Except, I liken Pistorius to someone using the latest golf equipment. Pros are hitting the ball further in their 50's than they did in their 20's b/c of the equipment. It makes courses obsolete.

As Doyel implied, the technology will improve. That makes T&F obsolete unless your body ends up getting physically altered. Just sayin.

Now, back to why I was motivated to write.

The Norlander article is an incredible piece of slanted journalism written by someone who is not an expert in the track and field. I'm no expert either, but I wonder how much Norlander follows the sport. 

There are several things which were left out (either intentionally or unintentionally) that really, really, color this story and make it into something that it should not be.

1. Improving your time by a quarter of a second is a significant thing in this event. That's a little more than 2 meters. While I'm not able to easily access Olympic results with times, I can tell you that a quarter of a second difference is typically worth 2-3-4 places in the finals results. That's pretty significant. OP's time of 45.52 makes him the 63rd fastest in the world in this event. However, 23 of those are Americans. Only 3 go. That makes him 43rd.

Drop the time to the "A" standard, and now OP is 39th and 28th. Drop it to his PB of 45.07 and he is now 21st and 13th. Drop another quarter of a second, and OP is in the Olympic Final based upon the times this year so far.

2. This whole thing about Pistorius being "let in" to the Olympics is misleading. Blame RSA for their policies, not the IAAF. Anybody who has met the "A" standard since 5/1/11 (not 5/1/12) is automatically eligible to compete in the games, provided they qualify for their country's team.

RSA made their standards much stricter than the IAAF. Hence, the "controversy" about Pistorius being selected. OP met the "A" standard twice in the allotted period. If this had been the U.S. trials under similar circumstances, Pistorius would have been named to the team, having finished 2nd in his country's trials (not 1st as the article implies), and having met the "A" standard, even though he didn't do that at the meet. Look at the men's HJ in the U.S. trials, if you have a problem here.

OP was already named on the 4x400 team anyway. The naming of him to the RSA team did not cost another countryman a spot for the 400M anyway.

Of course RSA is going to defend OP- just like they did Castor Semenya. Medals and eyeballs, possibly. Medals and eyeballs.

3. The reason that other athletes aren't complaining is two-fold. First is the dreaded political correctness crap. Second is that OP does not pose medal threat right now. That could change, read on later. Think about it. How many athletes slam other athletes or insinuate cheating unless the target is actually winning?!

4. Let's assume the IAAF did send out a warning memo to RSA about Pistorius inclusion, even after it was deemed that he had no competitive advantage. Well, first of all remember, a court, not the IAAF made that determination. So, IAAF has to abide whether they like it or not. Why would the IAAF do this? Because they realize the integrity of the competition is at stake.

5.  Pistorius poses more of a medal threat than Norlander lets on. Go back to my point #1 above first of all. Next, RSA was named one of the top 16 teams in the world for the 4x400, so he's already in the semis there. (Somehow though, there are 19 other countries that have run faster times this year.)

Here's the real issue though. Look at OP's times since 5/25 of this year at international/qualifying meets

5/25- 47.66
5/27- 46.35
6/2- 46.86
6/9- 46.14
6/29- 45.52

Anybody notice a dramatic trend here? In a little more than a month, OP has taken over 2 seconds of his time in 35 days. I know that everybody is rounding into shape for the Olympics, but there are 24 faster times posted than his SB before 5/25. He is rapidly moving up the ladder regardless of how you look at it. No wonder RSA named him to the team.

6. Norlander makes the case that OP belongs on the track and it is compassionate to do. Doyel has already argued for my point, so read his article.


a. Don't blame the IAAF for this hoopla.
b. Blame the courts for allowing this and blame RSA for their qualifying policies which drew attention to this begin with.

This is a story......

but not for the reasons that Norlander leads with.

Doyel has articulated that already.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or