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Oscar Pistorius Aims to Compete on Level Playing Field at 2008 Beijing Olympics

Double amputee Oscar Pistorius files appeal challenging International

Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF); seeks qualification at

sanctioned events

LONDON, Feb. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Oscar Pistorius -- a double amputee athlete from South Africa who competes in sprint events from 100M to 400M -- today initiated an appeal before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland challenging the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) determination disqualifying him from competing in all IAAF sanctioned events, including the upcoming 2008 Beijing Olympics. The appeal is being lead on a pro bono basis by a team of lawyers from international law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf.

Twenty-one year old Pistorius was born without fibula bones in both of his legs due to a congenital condition and at the age of 11 months had his legs were amputated between his knees and ankles. Despite his disability, Pistorius has pursued competition in athletics at an elite level, using artificial limbs manufactured by the Icelandic company Ossur.

Pistorius has been competing in both paralympic and able-bodied events sanctioned by the IAAF since 2004. In 2007 Pistorius was invited to compete in the 400M event at the IAAF "Golden Gala" in Rome, Italy, where he finished second with a time of 46.90 Seconds. In July 2007 he also competed in the Norwich Union British Grand Prix, which was also sanctioned by the IAAF.

However, in an about-face on 16 January 2008, the IAAF made a determination that Pistorius would not be eligible to compete in IAAF sanctioned events. The decision was made subsequent to a two day study initiated by the IAAF, and which concluded that Pistorius receives an "advantage" by using his prosthetic limbs.

Pistorius, backed by a team of leading experts, is certain that the tools necessary to enable him to walk do not provide him with an advantage over other athletes. It is argued that inadequate tests were performed on Pistorius, and that the IAAF has erred in accepting the tests as the sole premise for making such a grave decision. Pistorius has now lodged an appeal against the decision of the IAAF, and has referred the matter to arbitration in accordance with the IAAF rules.

Pistorius stated: "I am filing this appeal not just for myself, but for all disabled athletes. We deserve a chance to compete at the highest levels if our bodies permit us to do so."

The legal team from Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP, which has 27 offices on four continents, has committed lawyers from its preeminent sports and entertainment practice to fight Pistorius' cause. The effort will include a collaboration of offices from the USA to Italy to South Africa, with the lead partners being Marco Consonni and Bruno Gattai from Italy and Jeffrey Kessler and David Feher from the United States.

"We believe in the cause that Oscar is fighting, and will use all of our resources to pursue what is right," said Jeffrey Kessler of Dewey & LeBoeuf.

SOURCE Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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