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.

Arts and Entertainment
books
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
peopleAlice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
The Digicub app, for young fans
advertisingNSPCC 'extremely concerned'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution