Alan Oliveira complaint was Oscar Pistorius's second against a rival in six weeks


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The Independent Online

Oscar Pistorius complained twice this summer about the rules on running blades to the Paralympic governing body, officials said today.

The T44 200m gold medal was snatched from the 25-year-old South African in last night's thrilling final by Brazil's Alan Oliveira in a time of 21.45 seconds.

A frustrated Pistorius, known as the Blade Runner, claimed after the race that the length of his rival's running blades gave him an advantage.

He appeared to put the controversy behind him at this morning's medal ceremony when he congratulated and hugged Oliveira on the podium.

But the International Paralympic Committee's (IPC) Craig Spence revealed today that Pistorius had telephoned him personally to express concerns over the length of a rival athlete's blades six weeks ago.

The athlete in question was not Oliveira, Mr Spence added.

A member of Pistorius's PR team also contacted the IPC during the last week to warn that the athlete was likely to raise concerns about the rules during the Games.

Mr Spence said: "Six weeks ago was very much an informal phone call, it wasn't 'I'd like to make a formal complaint to the IPC'.

"I was out for dinner with my parents, he rang me and said 'can you look into something for me because there's lots of rumours going around that a certain athlete is on blades that are too long?"'

Mr Spence said he called the relevant people within the IPC and quickly phoned Pistorius back.

He said: "Within a few hours we had an answer, I phoned Oscar back and he said 'yep, thanks very much Craig, I'm really grateful you've come back to me'. So, for my liking, that issue was closed then.

"Then, this week, one of Oscar's representatives, from his PR agency, called me just to say that Oscar felt that this was an issue he was going to get asked about at the Games, and that he thought it was going to be raised at some point by Oscar and that we should be aware.

"So last night as soon as the result happened and I saw Oscar on Channel 4, I knew that we were going to have to face the issue."

Mr Spence said he immediately made sure he obtained signed documentation from the classifiers to indicate all competing 200m runners had been measured prior to the race and that they were all "legitimate and valid for competition".

He said it was the first time an athlete had contacted him directly.

Asked if it constituted lobbying from Pistorius, Mr Spence said: "I have to admit, it was the first time I've had an athlete call me to express their concern, but I think it shows the relationship that the IPC has with its athletes.

"We are open to hear what our athletes have to say and if one of our athletes has a concern with our sport then somebody with the profile of Oscar, we definitely would listen."

IPC medical & scientific director Dr Peter Van Der Vliet said the formulas for working out acceptable blade lengths were agreed with athletes' coaches prior to the Games.

The restrictions on blade lengths are worked out by taking two measurements from an athlete's body, putting them into a formula that then illustrates what that person's height was likely to be if they were non-disabled, Dr Van Der Vliet said.

Oliveira stunned the Olympic Stadium last night when he came back from behind to beat Pistorius on the home straight.

Following the race, Pistorius made it clear that he did not feel he was running on a level playing field, with some of his competitors' running blades longer than he believes they ought to be.

"As I said yesterday, the IPC don't want to listen," he told Channel 4.

"The guys' legs are unbelievably long.

"Not taking away from Alan's performance, he's a great athlete, but these guys are a lot taller and you can't compete (with the) stride length.

"You saw how far he came back. We aren't racing a fair race. I gave it my best.

"The IPC have their regulations. The regulations (allow) that athletes can make themselves unbelievably high.

"We've tried to address the issue with them in the weeks up to this and it's just been falling on deaf ears."

He added: "I think Alan's a great athlete but...I run just over 10 metres per second, I don't know how you can come back, watching the replay, from eight metres behind on the 100 to win.

"It's absolutely ridiculous."

The IPC said it would sit down with Pistorius in the coming weeks to hear his concerns in a "non-emotional" environment.