London - Oscar Pistorius on Monday morning apologised for the “timing” of his comments after he suggested Alan Oliveira, the Brazilian who beat him in the 200m final at the Paralympics on Sunday night, had used extra length on his carbon-fibre blades to gain some speed that he does not naturally have.
“I would never want to detract from another athlete’s moment of triumph and I want to apologise for the timing of my comments after yesterday’s race,” Pistorius said on Monday morning.
He has, though, refused to back down from the controversy, believing that the International Paralympic Committee has allowed the situation to develop where double-leg, below-the-leg amputee athletes are stretching the rules by stretching the length of their prosthetics.
“I do believe that there is an issue here and I welcome the opportunity to discuss with the IPC, but I accept that raising these concerns immediately as I stepped off the track was wrong.
“That was Alan’s moment and I would like to put on record the respect I have for him. I am a proud Paralympian and believe in the fairness of sport. I am happy to work with the IPC who obviously share these aims.”
Pistorius received both support and criticism on Monday morning for his outburst immediately after the race. What the furore has muddled is that Pistorius and several of the single-leg amputees have been asking the IPC to tighten up the rules regarding the length of prosthetics for some time now.
Oliveira had come from behind to edge the South African on the line. It was an incredible finish by the Brazilian, whose time was 21.45 seconds. In fact, it was a finish so incredible, Pistorius believed it was unfair, claiming that Oliveira had lengthened his carbon-fibre prosthetics to an abnormal length, thus gaining an advantage that while within the rules, was outside the spirit of the Paralympics.
Pistorius was quick to congratulate Oliveira again lest it seem he was the bad loser that some on social networks had already begun to say: “I’d just like to congratulate Alan,” said a calmer Pistorius an hour after the race last night.
Monday morning’s apology was a mirror image of that. “I shook his hand outside on the track. He had a great performance. I wish him the best. My focus is going to be on my coming races now.
“I wasn’t able to defend my title on the 200, but hopefully I’ll be able to do that on the 400m and, maybe with a bit of luck, in the 100m races.”
Pistorius will meet the IPC this week. “Following [last night’s] race, Oscar has shared some concerns with the International Paralympic Committee,” said IPC spokesman, Craig Spence, standing alongside Pistorius.
“We’ve had a meeting to discuss those concerns. We’ve agreed that we will meet again with our science and medical director, Peter van der Vliet, for Oscar to share his concerns without the emotions of tonight’s race. That meeting will be set up in due course.”
At that meeting, Pistorius will ask the same questions of the IPC as he has for the past two months since double athletes began lengthening their blades with the aim of increasing their stride lengths.
They are, admitted Pistorius still within the letter of the law, but, he said, that ignores the aspects of ratio, of what the natural legs of the amputees should be given a standard hip to “toe” measurement.
The IPC was swift to deny that there had been any mistake on the length of the blades of Oliveira and Blade Leeper, of the United States, who had beaten Arnu Fourie of South Africa to second place.
“There is a rule in place regarding the length of the blades which is determined by a formula based on the height and dynamics of the athlete,” the IPC said.
“All athletes were measured today prior to competition by a classifier and all were approved for competition,” a spokesman said.
Oliveira stuck to the same line as the IPC, saying he had stuck to the rules. “The length of my blades is all right, I went through all the procedures with the referees. Once I come inside the track it’s because it’s all been cleared up and I believe Pistorius also knows that,” the Brazilian said.
“No. Since the first time I put them on they’ve been following the IPC rules and I’ve been using them already for a whole month, just the same blades.”