Oscar Pistorius apologises over timing of blades comments

 

Oscar Pistorius has apologised for the timing of his comments about the running blades used by T44 200 metres gold medallist Alan Fonteles Oliveira immediately after last night's race.

The South African hit out at the International Paralympic Committee for failing to act over the length of some athletes' blades after Oliveira, wearing noticeably longer ones, came from way back to pip him at the line.

The Brazilian took gold in 21.45 seconds, leaving Pistorius to settle for silver, coming home in 21.52secs with stunned quiet from the 80,000 spectators greeting the result.

In a statement released to Press Association Sport this morning, Pistorious said: "I would never want to detract from another athletes' moment of triumph and I want to apologise for the timing of my comments after yesterday's race."

The statement continued: "I do believe that there is an issue here and I welcome the opportunity to discuss with the IPC but I accept that raising these concerns immediately as I stepped off the track was wrong.

"That was Alan's moment and I would like to put on record the respect I have for him.

"I am a proud Paralympian and believe in the fairness of sport. I am happy to work with the IPC who obviously share these aims."

Pistorius, who was the reigning T44 200m champion, cannot alter the length of his blades if he wants to continue to compete in able-bodied competition because they have to conform to IAAF regulations.

And he claimed he was not competing on a level playing field, even though the new blades, which are about four inches taller than those used by Pistorius, are within the rules.

He said last night: "I've never seen a guy come back from eight metres (behind) on the 100m mark to overtake me on the finish line.

"The guys are just running ridiculous times and they're able to do so.

"We've known (about the longer blades) for about a month. I've brought it up with the IPC but nothing's been done about it. I believe in the fairness of sport, I believe in running on the right length."

Oliveira hit back at Pistorius, suggesting he was trying to deflect attention away from his defeat.

He said: "He is not a bad loser, he is a great athlete. I am just sad with the interview where he said my blades were too big.

"He was bothered by my time in the semi-finals and he wanted to get to me with his polemic but it did not work.

"For me he is a really great idol and to hear that from a great idol is difficult."

The pair are on course to go head to head again in the finals of the 100m and 400m on Thursday and Saturday respectively.

Pistorius has already admitted he does not fancy his chances over the shorter distance, but the 400m is his main event - he reached the Olympic semi-finals last month - and defeat there would escalate the row even further.

A spokesman for the IPC said last night: "There is a rule in place regarding the length of the blades which is determined by a formula based on the height and dynamics of the athlete.

"All athletes were measured today prior to competition by a classifier and all were approved for competition."

The IPC released a statement on the rules that in place regarding prosthetic blades and revealed that Pistorius had requested a meeting after last night's race.

The statement read: "After the race Oscar Pistorius requested a meeting with the IPC where he voiced his concerns.

"In IPC Athletics rules are in place regarding prosthesis length for lower leg amputees.

"Since 2010 athletes competing at IPC international competitions have been checked at regular occasions in the Call Room prior to participation.

"At the London 2012 Paralympic Games all athletes competing in T42/43/44 events (above knee and below knee lower leg amputees) have had their prosthesis measured against the IPC Athletics Rules.

"All athletes competing in the Men's 200m T44 final were checked by international classifiers in the Call Room ahead of the race. All were within the regulations outlined in the IPC Athletics Classification Handbook.

"After the race Oscar Pistorius requested a meeting with the IPC where he voiced his concerns."

IPC communications director Craig Spence said: "Oscar raised a concern with the IPC regarding the rules on the length of prosthesis in T43/44 events.

"We agreed to meet with him at a later date so that he could he raise his questions in a formal environment away from the emotion of the stadium.

"The IPC respects the significant role Oscar has played in raising the global profile of Paralympic Sport since his Games debut in 2004. Therefore we are more than willing to give him an opportunity to air his views in a non-emotional environment at a meeting to be organised at a later date."

PA

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