Olympic hopes of a double feud are at risk. Know the story of Blake Leeper – Sports

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Black leperOne of the fastest amputee athletes in the world, if he wants to compete for a spot on the United States Olympic team, he will have to walk with a short set of running blades. World athletics on Monday.

Leaper, who finished fifth in the 400 meters at the 2019 US Athletics Championships, was in the running to compete in that year’s World Athletics Championships, but the sport’s governing body determined that the blades he used were ” Abnormally high “left.

Leeper was born without both legs below the knee and at the age of 4, he underwent amputation surgery to allow an ideal fit for the prosthesis. He won two medals at the London Paralympics in 2012, but also decided to compete against non-disabled athletes.

Before the ban, he used blades of the same size in competitions for five years. He then began wearing a set, hoping to compete in the Olympic qualifiers in June, which made him about two inches shorter. He said that a small set of blades would basically force him to run.

In Monday’s decision, a panel of experts from the sport’s governing body, World Athletics, concluded that even blades that make it 5 centimeters shorter would give it an unfair advantage over the non-disabled runner.

“The report sent proved to the panel that there is a direct correlation between leg length and running speed and, therefore, the height of Sh. Leeper gave the result by running fast in the 400-meter race, ”World Athletics said in a statement released on Monday.

The decision means that Leaper’s last hope for competition in the Olympics is in the hands of a federal court in Switzerland.

In October, the world’s highest sports court, the Sports Court of Arbitration, decided that standards set by the International Paralympic Committee supported World Athletics’ claim that the leper’s running blade made it taller than it would have been if it had been born. would had. With fully functional legs.

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Leeper appealed that decision to the Swiss Supreme Court and said he would appeal Monday’s decision as well. He argued that, in setting the standard for the possible height of double amputees competing in athletics, officials did not conduct a sufficiently large study, which resulted in discrimination with lepers.

In establishing the standards, track and field organizations cited research that included only Caucasian and Asian athletes. The leper is black. In Leaper’s appeal, lawyers cited studies that suggested people of African ancestry may have longer legs than people with another lineage. The World Athletics Panel denied that its decision was discriminatory in any way and scientists questioned them, citing data consulted by Leiper.

“It is not certain that World Athletics will continue to discriminate against black athletes with disabilities and that the panel they nominated has again approved this discriminatory treatment,” Leaper said in a statement on Monday. “Making this decision on standards and studies that completely exclude black athletes is against common sense and has no scientific basis, as my experts have clarified the statements of World Athletics.” But, despite this setback, I will appeal to continue to fight for athletes around the world who are discriminated against – be it race, disability or both ”.

In the past, lepers and other handicapped athletes have had to prove that none of the equipment they use has provided an advantage, which is a major challenge, as it is difficult to prove negative in almost all areas.

In recent years, world athletics has struggled to balance inclusion with consideration of fair competition, but critics argue that its rules discriminate against those who are biologically incompatible.

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In the case of Leaper and before him, Oscar Pistorius of South Africa, who became the first dual amputee to run at the Olympics in 2012, World Athletics focused on whether the equipment he drove gave him access to the non-disabled Corridors given an advantage. For Castor Semenya from South Africa, and other athletes born with high testosterone levels, the organization has battled for years to ban them from competing in middle-distance athletics as long as they change their hormones Do not take medicines.

During a recent interview, attorney Jeffrey Kessler, who represented Leopards, Pistorius and Semenya of World Athletics, said, “They have a view of the people and they don’t have differences.” “We are the people. None of us is perfect. We are all on one spectrum”.

Like all high-performance prostheses, the leper’s running blades and the mechanisms connecting their legs were tailor-made for her, with a height that allows her body to move in the most efficient manner. Experts say it is impossible to determine whether the height at which the leper feels most comfortable is as high as it would have been if he were born with fully functional legs. Under the most recent height standards, their current blades would also not be allowed in the Paralympic races.

In proceedings before a Swiss court, Ross Wenzel, a lawyer for World Athletics, acknowledged that the organization’s conclusion about Leper’s height if he was born with functional legs “was not an exact science, but a well-informed conjecture.” Was “.

Over the past decade, athletics officials have consistently used methods to determine how tall a double empty should be when using a running blade.

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For a while, the rules focused on the distance from a person’s fingers to the middle of the torso. Focus included measuring the length of the ulna, the bone that is part of the anterior part. Recently, the focus has shifted to the so-called height when sitting, namely, the athlete’s height when sitting in a box.

But some of the world’s leading synthetic experts say that it is unclear whether this method can apply to the entire spectrum of the human population. In addition, some para-athletes may have congenital diseases that affect the size of some bones, which increases the length of a given bone as a questionable exercise.

In addition, supporters of lepers and other athletes say that any advantage they can provide on the blade is lost at the outset, as it takes longer for a runner who uses the blade at full speed. To reach, and when cornering, artificial footprints are more difficult.

World athletics argued that according to standard metrics, someone with a torso the size of a leper would be 1.75 meters long, and that his blades would drive him as if he were 2 meters. In fact, the leper was about six feet above his old blade. The blades that World Athletics declined on Monday bring them to about six feet, about the average height of other 400-meter runners, many of whom have short torso and long legs. The leper’s blades are compressed when he runs, such as the legs of a non-handicapped runner. / Translation by Renato Prolorantzo

Sarah Gracie

About the author: Sarah Gracie

Sarahis a reporter covering Amazon. She previously covered tech and transportation, and she broke stories on Uber's finances, self-driving car program, and cultural crisis. Before that, she covered cybersecurity in finance. Sarah's work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Politico, and the Houston Chronicle.

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