Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Unfair Advantage?

Born to Run
Frasure-the-runner saw the fruits of his labors as Frasure-the-prosthetist from up close that day: he was on the track next to Pistorius when his patient-turned-protégé thundered past him on his way to shattering the American's world record. "I should have waited until next year to make his legs," Frasure said wryly, with a wan smile.
Do high-tech prosthetic legs provide an unfair advantage to disabled athletes? I believe so. In a roundabout way, this is similar to my argument about not trampling on one group's rights to protect another's. But it's not that simple.
Ultimately the real question is not one of science but of humanity and of fairness: should Oscar be allowed to run even if he gains some measure of advantage as a sprinter from his misfortune as a human being? And how does that advantage—if there is one—compare with the good fortune of a Carl Lewis or a Michael Johnson, members of what Gailey calls "the lucky sperm club" of athletes literally built to run because of their unnaturally long legs?

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