Prosthetics give an advantage....

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H-street
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Prosthetics give an advantage....

Post by H-street »

Thought some might find this interesting..

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/m ... ml?cnn=yes

one of hte interesting quotes i thought was
We need to separate emotion from the science," Davies said. "We all wish him well. The point here is what's going to happen in 10 years? What happens if it continues to evolve?
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In the spirit of keeping this fourm alive....

Post by alfonso2501 »

That Sports Illustrated link isn’t working. Are you talking about this guy: “South African Oscar Pistorius”
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Saito
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Post by Saito »

I was very disappointed to see that the Olympic Committee banned Oscar Pistorius from competing in Beijing in the able bodied Olympics because his artificial running legs gave him an unfair advantage. What kind of message does this give to disabled people who use these types of aids?

"You might be as able bodied as a normal person but you're still a freak"
"You shouldn't use technology that makes the human body work better"
"You are not allowed to play with the able bodied kids because you are 'handicapped'"

All these come to mind. They don't even have any conclusive proof that he would be able to beat the worlds top sprinters anyway, he has beaten able bodied athletes but non were at the very top of the sport.

I was really disappointed. If he'd turned up and beaten every able bodied sprinter by a country mile I could have understood the decision. The fact is he's never run in a top class able bodied field. Also video analysis of his running style reveals it's a dubious point as to wether it even does give him a definite advantage.

I know it's a contentious point, but it was my opinion that anyone who comes out of the disabled sport and is that good deserves the right to compete alongside the worlds best able bodied athletes.
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Post by alfonso2501 »

I hope you all don’t mind me bringing back a dead thread but it looks like Oscar Pistorius will be allowed to try out for the 2012 London Olympics.
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Post by Saito »

That's pretty cool news, at least he's being given a chance to match his skills against able-bodied athletes. If he actually has an unfair advantage, rather than the IAAF just perceiving him to have and/or being scared of the idea of a disabled athlete actually being good at something, then they can rightly prevent him competing on fairness grounds. I'm still of the opinion that he won't have a significant advantage myself, the human body is a well designed and efficient machine, I'm not sure that such simple prosthetics would be genuinely advantageous to a sprinter. They may be to a long distance runner though...
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Post by simon's ghost »

I really feel you are completely off. Wether it does give him an advantage or not is not the point. He simply is not competing on an equal basis with the others. He is not practicing the same movement or developing the same muscles as other sprinters. He is not submitted to the same laws of biomechanics. If the prostecthics allow him to be as fast as other runners, IT IS an unfair advantage. No amputee can run as fast as an able-bodied athlete, therefore he is fast BECAUSE of the prosthetics. If the prostectics did not make him as fast as other runners, we would not even have heard of him as an athlete and he would simply compete in special olympics. So the whole debate comes from the prosthetics, not his talent. As an athlete, I could hardly understand how someone who is not exposed to physics exactly like me should compete. It's just two completely deifferent things. What's next? Sprinters vs wheelchair racers?
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Post by Saito »

From a purist athletics standpoint your argument is quite valid, but I'm afraid from a moral stand point I find it rather unfair. Would you rather see athletes with physical disabilities discriminated against for the rest of time? I know I wouldn't.

On the flip-side of your argument, it's like banning an athlete for wearing different trainers than the guy next to him, or training better because he uses a digital running machine during his training regime. Sport is well passed the stage where you can separate those who are governed purely by biomechanical laws, because all athletes use technology to gain an advantage where it is legally possible. There is already a gulf here too. Do you think a runner from Ghana competes on a level technological basis to one from the USA? I suspect not.

The key is keeping a level playing field, not telling one kid they can't turn up because they have a false leg. Just like the athletics body makes sure shoes, drugs (or rather lack of it) and all manner of other things are strictly controlled for the good of the sport, so prosthetics and disability aids must also be. Like I said above, if it perceived he has a totally unfair advantage then it is not in the interests of the sport to let him compete as his augmentations currently exist, just the same as an able bodied athlete with spring loaded shoes that make him run 10mph faster wouldn't or an athlete who has taken a performance enhancing drug isn't. In this case a compromise must be sought that keeps things fair.

Also, remember, for all the advantage he gains from the carbon fibre blades he runs on, he has no lower leg, and no strength from that part of his body. The blades are designed to replace that, in a way that allows him to participate in athletics, they weren't bolted to someone's healthy human legs in order to make them superman.

Put simply, discrimination because of disability is not correct. Discrimination because of an unfair advantage is correct (we both agree on that, right?).

So allow him to compete as long as he has no advantage. Hard thing to do you say? Exactly, that's why everyone's been skirting the issue, but the time has come for them to wake up and smell the roses IMHO. We are one human race, and it's about time we started behaving like one.
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Post by alfonso2501 »

Hi everyone! Just wanted to day that I just picked up this months issue of Runner’s World here in the US & guess what? Oscar Pistorius’s picture is in page 16 along with some mention.
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Post by simon's ghost »

I see what you mean Saito. I don't think this is about morals and the fact that I think it shouldn't be accepted has nothing to do with discrimination towards athletes or people with a handicap.

There are strict regulations on the gear runners are allowed to put on. There are also strict regulations on what athletes are allowed to put in their bodies.

Training with more technology doesn't mean you have more technology in your body on the race track. (unles you get "injections"!) It just means you lived in a favorable environment. That's not a criteria currently. If all the people of the earth lived in equal conditions, you wouldn't have an american or us trained athlete winning all the time. Many athletes cannot compete in their chosen dicipline because their country offers no real training facilities for the specific discipline. It's not discrimination. It's world economics. (and it's crap as we all know) Training with more technology can help you achieve a better skill or physical potency, but then...some people are born with that perfect running form and fast twitch muscle fiber and all... So there are some parts where competition is unfair, but you can take nothing but your body, your suit and your shoes on the track. How do you measure how much of an impact those legs have? Remember this is a foreing mechanical obect!

If we were in a race where teams of engineers would be pitted against each other to determine who creates the best running machine (let's say for realism's sake within specific size and weight limitations) then you'd have room to combine men with other stuff. The winning credits would not really go to the athlete would it? It would go to the team, just like in F1 racing. If everyone one was racing the exact same car, you might get a better idea who the best pilot is. As it is in F1, overall performance is determined by a combination of factors, the pilot being one of them. The pilot's performance is not measured outside of his car. Maybe Michael Schumacher wouldn't be so great outside of his Ferrari (and even then, when Ferrari were caught cheating, their success was dramatically reduced). You cannot evaluate car and pilot seperately during the race and in my mind, I can't separate the man above the knees and his carbon enhanced legs.

However, competition measures the (motor) skill of the athlete in his discipline combined with the potency of his body (through both natural gift and training method). The athlete's mind is also tested thoroughly wether in training or in competition. As far as his mind goes, that runner really outshines all the others and passes the test brilliantly, but I'd still have him race only other guys with the same carbon legs. If a man was born or ended up with a condition which cripples his testosterone production, would he be allowed to get testosterone treatment and compete? I can't see that happening any time soon nor should it.

It's funny I've stumbled upon this old thread again after not coming here so much anymore. I've been spending a lot of time thinking about the meaning of competition and its place in human society and evolution. My moral self feels the whole concept of competition is a perversino of the mind, but my pragmatic nature thinks there is no other way for life forms to find the most perfectly adapted vessel. But that's another topic.
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Post by Freitag »

I love digging up old topics.

There was that furor in the Olympics recently about those new swim suits from Speedo. This is akin to the argument made about wearing different trainers.

I think there is still a difference between the Speedos and prosthetics though. The Speedos eliminate drag (they also enforce posture which IS a prosthetic function, hmmm) and so they allow the human to reach the full potential. Perhaps in the future the water might even be treated with chemicals to reduce drag?

But I agree that a prosthetic athlete is competing in a whole different category. It's not just eh athlete that is competing, it is the manufacturer and designer of his equipment. It's all very Edward Elric and automail here.

Perhaps the solution is a new Olympic category - either as a series of events in the regular Olympics or as a separate set of events (like the Special Olympics).

Until there are enough modified humans to compete with each other, it's just a demonstration sport.

I recall in times gone by that the companies that sponsored cars in the Formula One world used the knowledge they gained from the peak performance vehicles to build better road vehicles. Maybe the next generation of civilian arm prosthetics will be advertised as "Built by the company that created the winning shotput arm of the 2012 Cyborg Olympics" ?
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Post by Chroma »

Yeah I like the Formula One analogy.

I think, that the sport should have rules, and that theses rules must be taken to be fair.
In fact, the competition is not to have the best equipment but the best strenght, technique or whatever.
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