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Astonishing record of Patrick Leeper reignites controversy trailing size of prosthetics in sports

Patrick Leeper claimed a silver medal behind Oscar Pistorius in the 400m T43 category at the 2012 Paralympic Games. (Photo: Getty Images/CNN)
by Gianni Merlo, La Gazzetta dello Sport, AIPS President

LAUSANNE, June 11, 2018 - Patrick "Blake" Leeper, amputated under his knees after being born with a physical malformation similar to that of Oscar Pistorius, is making the world marvel with performances that go beyond the imaginable, and there has already been a fierce controversy after he recorded a time of 44.42 seconds in the 400 meters a few days ago, during the Odlizila meeting in Prague.

OSCAR, THE BEGINNING - In 2007, Pistorius had opened up a path, going against the tide, and had eventually managed to win his battle to be considered ‘normal', despite the steel prosthesis that he carried. Some athletics purists did not accept the decision of the TAS, which established that Oscar had the right to run with able-bodied.

Pistorius was stubborn, determined and so he opened a door for all athletes with problems similar to his. He became an ambassador of a new normality. We wrote a book about his life with him before the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Every page was almost a hymn to optimism, to normality.

He really wanted to help others. He wanted to help those in Africa who crawled in the dust because their legs had been crushed by a bomb or a malignant disease, to have prosthetics, and then stand up and have a dignified life.

Then Oscar saw hell with his girlfriend's murder and is now in jail. A burnt life.

PATRICK - The result obtained by Patrick has reignited a controversy because from the video analysis of the Prague competition, the advantage offered by prostheses, compared to able-bodied, is evident. He changes gear at the entrance of the second curve and then on the arrival straight he does not suffer any yielding to the human effort.

Those that were against the inclusion of Pistorius among the able-bodied are now more lively than ever and it is not easy to blame them.

Some say that the new prostheses in use - longer than those used in the past - have a greater spring effect and therefore offer illegal help.

Then there are those who say that prosthetics should be measured before and after the race to remain in the legal parameters, but this would complicate the lives of the organisers and federations, which should hire certified technicians…

COMPLICATED - This is not a problem with an easy solution, because while the human rights aspect prevails in defending the aspirations of amputee athletes marked by a bitter fate, this, at the same time, should not damage the rights of others, the able-bodied.

It is a matter that should be cleared immediately to avoid the poisonous comments, which are likely to kill the dreams of those who find in sports a real revenge on fate.
Patrick Leeper is a great athlete, this is beyond discussion. He is an example. It only needs to be verified if the prostheses he uses does not end up making his engine too powerful, which goes beyond the limits set so far. There is no witch hunt to be done, but to analyse thoroughly the problem once again, in depth, because sport has to unite not to divide.
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