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(Daegu Athletics) Head of int'l athletics body says amputee runner must run first leg in relay
By Yoo Jee-ho
DAEGU, Aug. 26 (Yonhap) -- The head of the top international athletics body said Friday that Oscar Pistorius, the amputee runner from South Africa, must run in the first leg in the relay at the upcoming world championships here to prevent clashes, giving the latest twist to the dispute over Pistorius' artificial limbs.

   "We told the South African federation that if you want to have him (Pistorius) in the relays, he must run in the first leg," said Lamine Diack, president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), through an interpreter at a press conference here. He was speaking after a joint meeting of the IAAF and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on the eve of the 13th World Championships in Athletics.

   "We shall see what the result will be and what kind of follow up will be given," Diack added. "For him to take part in the relay, we will impose some conditions."

   Pistorius, dubbed "Blade Runner" for his carbon fiber artificial legs, has qualified for the men's 400 meters and made his country's 4x400m relay team at this year's world championships, which start Saturday for a nine-day run. He is the first amputee runner to compete at an able-bodied world championships.

   Though Diack didn't specify reasons for the decision, the IAAF appears to want to prevent accidental clashes between Pistorius and other runners.

   Earlier this month, Nick Davies, the IAAF spokesman, also said it would be "sensible" for Pistorius to run in the first leg so he wouldn't have to move for the baton changeover and risk running into other runners. In a later interview in Daegu, Pistorius said running the first leg would give South Africa a big disadvantage because he starts slow.

   In 2008, the IAAF banned him from its competitions, citing that his prosthetics legs gave him an advantage over others. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) later overruled the IAAF decision and made Pistorius eligible for able-bodied competitions.

  
Lamie Diack (C), head of the International Association of Athletics Federations (Yonhap)


On Friday, Diack defended the IAAF ban three years ago, saying it "took all necessary steps within its competence" to find out if Pistorius' prosthetics gave him an advantage. Diack also said the IAAF may still check to see if Pistorius' legs remain within the rules.

   When asked about the significance of having the amputee athlete at the world championships, Diack simply said, "He fulfilled conditions to compete against all other athletes. We'll let him take part."

   jeeho@yna.co.kr
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