National Columnist

Oscar Pistorius' technological conundrum continues

This is not me picking on Oscar Pistorius. This is not me being mean to the guy. As far as impressive human beings go, the mathematical equation is simple: Oscar Pistorius is more impressive than I am. So if I admit that up front, would you please take the time to read the following with a clear head?

Oscar Pistorius is a hypocrite.

Well, he is.

Pistorius was more than happy to compete in the 2012 Olympics with prosthetics that gave him certain physiological advantages over able-bodied runners. His lower legs, and therefore his entire body weight, is less. His prosthetic feet literally spring off the track without any energy required, meaning he has more energy left in the tank than his competitors.

But on Sunday, he was the one saying two other athletes in the London Paralympics -- including the guy who ran him down in the 200-meter final -- were competing unfairly.

"We're not racing a fair race here," Pistorius said, referring to the lengths of their prosthetics, even as he noted that his competitors' prosthetics were legal.

Pistorius' point: If other guys are using longer prosthetic limbs, they have a longer stride. And in the right circumstances, a longer stride can equal a faster runner.

But this is where Pistorius is a hypocrite: He was OK racing runners at the Summer Olympics whose lower legs were heavier than his ... and whose ankles had to expend energy to do what his bouncy, carbon-fiber prosthetics were doing automatically ...

He was OK with a technological edge, when it helped him. But he wasn't OK with a technological edge on Sunday, when it didn't.

Point being, technology is a slippery slope in track. What advantage does one set of prosthetic legs give over another? Nobody knows for sure; it's an inexact science. What advantage do Pistorius' Flex Cheetahs give him over an able-bodied runners' flesh and bone? Again, nobody knows for sure. Maybe Pistorius would be a 55-second quarter-miler if he had his own lower legs -- or maybe he'd be the fastest man in the world.

Point being, we just don't know about any of that. But now we know this: Oscar Pistorius wants the technology to work in his favor. And only his favor.


Gregg Doyel is a columnist for CBSSports.com. He covered the ACC for the Charlotte Observer, the Marlins for the Miami Herald, and Brooksville (Fla.) Hernando for the Tampa Tribune. He was 4-0 (3 KO's!) as an amateur boxer, and volunteers for the ALS Association. Follow Gregg Doyel on Twitter.
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