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IAAF says no to Pistorius accusation

17 July 2008

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) rejected on Thursday an accusation from double-amputee Oscar Pistorius that it was desperate to stop him competing at the Beijing Olympics.

IAAF spokesman Nick Davies said in an e-mail to Reuters that there was no change in the world governing body's position that the 21-year-old South African was welcome to seek qualification for the games.

Pistorius, who successfully appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against an IAAF ban, has failed in his bid to run in the 400 meters in Beijing but still hopes to be a member of his country's 4x400 relay squad.

After setting a personal best of 46.25 seconds in Lucerne, Switzerland, on Wednesday, Pistorius said recent comments from IAAF officials showed they were still opposed to his taking part in Beijing.

"One of the comments they made was that they didn't have the resources to check my prosthetic legs at every event, which kind of implies that I would try to cheat," Pistorius told reporters.

"Personally that's not what I think sport is about and it's kind of sad that they would feel that. I think it was the IAAF's last desperate attempt to try and get me not to qualify.

Davies said the IAAF fully respected the CAS decision and did not wish to influence the South African Olympic Committee, which had full authority to select a men's 4x400 relay team for Beijing.

"There has been no change to the IAAF position that Mr. Pistorius is welcome to seek qualification for the Olympics and future competitions under IAAF rules," he said.

"Recent IAAF comments regarding Oscar Pistorius, stating concerns about the risks inherent in 4x400 relay running and the burdens caused by the need to police prosthetics, have no effect on the official eligibility of Oscar Pistorius, nor should they be misconstrued as a personal attack on Oscar."

Pistorius, whose lower legs were amputated when he was 11 months old, was banned from competing in January by the IAAF, which argued that the carbon-fiber blades he uses give him an advantage over able-bodied athletes.

The ban was overturned by CAS, which criticized the tests carried out by the IAAF to measure the runner's performance levels.

CAS said its ruling applied only to Pistorius and only for as long as he continued to use his existing model of prosthetics.

Pistorius said he expected to hear by Sunday if he had made his country's Olympic relay team.

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