James Corrigan: Puritans are just taking the Pistorius

The Last Word: Hysteria over 'cheating' should not be allowed to keep an inspirational athlete out of the Olympics

Witch-hunting must become an Olympic sport. And why not introduce it in time for London 2012? After all, the build-up is already dominated by the search for evil athletes mixing their wicked concoctions, and it would be a shame if the grand climax did not feature at least one of the accused being set on fire or dunked in water.

May I put forward Oscar Pistorius, the South African 400 metres runner. He has already overcome one trial by ordeal, so I'm positive he could cope with another. This double amputee has the effrontery to gain an advantage over his poor, fully able rivals by leaping around on prosthetic limbs made ofcarbon, which very probably come complete with turbo-boosters.

At the moment The Blade Runner– to use his moniker of the coven – is eligible to compete at the Games, but surely the authorities will come to their senses. Further investigations are plainly required, as a few facts need checking: a) could he run that fast if he hadn't so cynically had his legs chopped off as a cravenly ambitious 11-month-old?; b) if Roger Black had had the operation and gone for the blades, would he would have beaten Michael Johnson?; and c) does Oscar own a black cat?

It is impossible not to take the Pistorius after the reaction of many to his time of 45.07sec on Tuesday evening, which earned passage to this year's World Championships as well as next year's Olympics. Instead of rejoicing in one of life's more fantastical successes and speculating what this could do for disabled sports, they filled the message boards with cries for retribution.

They referred to a "flawed" Court of Arbitration of Sport decision in 2008, after the IAAF crassly ruled Pistorius ineligible to compete at the Beijing Olympics. They pointed to the defence's scientists, who have since changed their mind on the effectiveness of Pistorius's Cheetah Flex-Foot contraptions. They reached the conclusion that the governing body should ban "the fastest man on no legs". Sentiment should play no part in it, they said.

But why shouldn't it? Why are so many sports fans so keen to focus on the precedent and not on the person? How have we become so hardened to what should, essentially, be about enjoyment? The answer is, of course, Seoul 1988 and Ben Johnson, that original sporting witch.

As soon as he crossed that line in that chemically inspired time of 9.79sec the wheels were set in motion for hysteria to take over. Every cheat was to be unearthed; there would be zero tolerance. Those good men on their trusty white steeds were going to clean up sport once and for all.

And where are we, 23 years later? Not far from where we started. In fact, we are a few 100m back from where we started. Not only are some of the guilty still getting away with it, but we are in the mess where some of the innocent aren't getting away with doing nothing.

Take the example of Albert Subirats last week. Not many would have heard of the appalling treatmentof the Venezuelan swimmer, and because we are all so damned sanctimonious about drug punishments even fewer of us would have cared. Subirats, the first athlete from his country to win a World Championship medal, was banned for one year on the "whereabouts" rule, whichrequires athletes to keep the anti-dopers informed of their location. Fina, the governing body of swimming, accept Subirats informed his nationalassociation of his whereabouts and that between the two organisations there was a clerical error. Yet the ban stands. Why? No tolerance – it's the athlete's responsibility.

Meanwhile, at around the same time as that stunning verdict, the Court of Arbitration for Sport were clearing another swimmer, the doubleworld record-holder Cesar Cielo. Cielo failed a drugs test, but argued that his normal supplements had been cross-contaminated. Why such tolerance for the Brazilian? Because the rulebook, that blessed bible for the anti-dopers, allows a little in the case of positive tests.

And there you have it. One athlete fails no test; he is banned. Another athlete fails a test; he isn't banned. If you would like to see where all that moral panic has taken sport, it is contained in this grotesque anomaly and in the disgusting truth that, as the rules stand, Subirats will not be allowed to compete in London.

Still, the self-righteous will sleep easier, just as they will if Pistorius is stopped from realising his dream. "Better that one innocent athlete suffers than 10 guilty athletes escape" – it is sport's new motto.

Furore over Rory is blast of hot air

Apart from all his other gifts, Rory McIlroy has the power to say exactly the wrong thing at exactly the wrong time. But that doesn't automatically mean he is wrong.

Indeed, some of us believe that he was essentially correct a few years ago when he referred to the Ryder Cup as "an exhibition" that should be a long way down a professional's priority list, way beneath the majors. And all of us should think him spot-on in his assessment of the Open, which offended so many last Sunday.

Basically, all McIlroy was saying when he came off Royal St George's frustrated by a tie for 25th was that he has more chance of winning the Claret Jug when it isn't windy. Straight away, his previously unimpeachable credentials to become one of the greats were questioned. But why? Haven't they ever heard of Tiger Woods?

The second most successful player in the history of golf isn't best suited to the blowy stuff either. Yet he has won three Opens. How could that be? Maybe because Woods happened to prevail when the conditions were calm. On both occasions at the Old Course (in 2000 and 2005) the gusts rivalled the women members of the R&A for number, while at Hoylake in 2006 the only discernible wind emanated from the Men's Bar.

To paraphrase McIlroy: "Woods waited for the years when the weather was nice." It didn't do him any harm and it probably won't do Rory any harm either. Furthermore, it will not be about the young Ulsterman "learning to play in the wind". It will be about the young Ulsterman "learning not to be honest with the media". In fact, just like Tiger Woods.

Newcastle players celebrate, Mario Balotelli scores, Alan Pardew and Brendan Rodgers
footballNewcastle vs Liverpool , Arsenal vs Burnley, Chelsea vs QPR and Everton vs Swansea
i100Amazing Amazon review bomb
Arts and Entertainment
The Spice Girls' feminism consisted of shouting 'girl power' and doing peace signs in latex catsuits
musicWhat is it? You know what you want it to be...
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
food + drinkFrom Mediterranean Tomato Tart to Raw Caramel Peanut Pie
Moss and Grimshaw arrive at the party
peopleKate Moss, Claudia Schiffer and Nick Grimshaw at Jonathan Ross's Halloween party
Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
Boys to men: there’s nothing wrong with traditional ‘manly’ things, until masculinity is used to exclude people
indybest13 best grooming essentials
travelPurrrfect jet comes to Europe
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch attends the London premiere of his new film The Imitation Game
people He's not as smart as his characters
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities