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Breaking news: Study revives Olympic prospects for amputee sprinter
Date:5/16/2008

human running performance.

None received compensation for their research or participation in the hearing. The authors plan to submit the study to a peer-reviewed journal now that the legal case has been settled.

The scientific team was asked to evaluate the IAAFs initial claim that the Cheetah Flex-Foot prostheses (J-shaped, high-performance prostheses used for running) worn by Pistorius give him an advantage over able-bodied runners. The team concluded that the scientific evidence put forth by the IAAF investigation to ban Pistorius was fundamentally flawed. While an athletes performance in sprints of very short duration is determined almost entirely by mechanical factors, in races of longer duration, such as the 400m, performance depends on both mechanical and metabolic factors, said Herr, a bilateral amputee who heads the MIT Media Labs Biomechatronics research group.

Based on this performance link, the scientists refuted the IAAF findings on two major points: the speed-duration relationship and rates of metabolic energy expenditure.

Specifically, the scientists concluded that:

  • Pistorius ability to maintain speed over the course of longer sprints--his speed-duration relationship--is essentially identical to that of able-bodied runners, indicating that he fatigues in the same manner as able-bodied sprinters.

  • Pistorius rates of metabolic energy expenditure do not differ from elite non-amputee runners. In particular, he has nearly the same running economy, or rate of oxygen consumption at submaximal speeds, and a similar maximal rate of oxygen consumption as elite non-amputee runners.

"Based on the data collected at Rice, the blades do not confer an enhanced ability to hold speed over a 400m race," Weyand said. "Nor does our research support the IAAF's claims of how the blades provide some sort of mechanical advantage for sprinting."

The study commissioned by the IAAF cl
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Contact: David Ruth
druth@rice.edu
713-348-6327
Rice University
Source:Eurekalert

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