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Olympic appeal date for Pistorius

1 April 2008

Double amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius will find out later this month if he is allowed to run at the Olympics.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) hearing will take place on 29 and 30 April.

In January, athletics' governing body said he could not race in able-bodied events because his prosthetic limbs give him an unfair advantage.

The 21-year-old South African disagrees and has subsequently undergone tests in the US in an attempt to prove his case.

"I am very appreciative of CAS for setting a schedule that will allow a decision in time for me to pursue my goal of qualifying for the Olympics," he said.

"This case is important not just to me, but to all disabled persons who just ask for the chance to compete fairly on the sporting field with able-bodied athletes."

One of Pistorius's legal team Jeffrey Kessler, a partner at international law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf, added: "We look forward to presenting the evidence to the panel. Oscar will finally get his chance to be heard."

The IAAF ruling in January was based on studies it commissioned by German professor Gert-Peter Brueggemann, who concluded that the prosthetic limbs gave Pistorius an unfair advantage because he uses 25% less energy than an able-bodied runner.

But if the IAAF decision was overturned, Pistorius would still need to qualify for the South African team to race at the Beijing Olympics.

The athlete said his schedule would be seriously affected by the ruling because about 80% of his races are able-bodied events.

Pistorius was born without fibulas - the long, thin outer bone between the knee and ankle - and was 11 months old when his legs were amputated below the knee.

He began running competitively four years ago to treat a rugby injury, and nine months later won the 200m at the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens.

Nicknamed the "Blade Runner," Pistorius has set world records in the 100m, 200m and 400m in Paralympic events.

He finished second in the 400m at the South African national championships last year against able-bodied runners.

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