Jottings on science, religion, technology, pop culture and faith from the Antipodes.

Bioethics/Biotech, Cyborg

Therapy or enhancement in sport?

I’ve been wondering whether South African athlete Oscar Pistorius, who runs with carbon-fibre prosthetic legs, would be competing at the Beijing Olympics ever since I saw a news article about him a year to eighteen months ago. It appears now that he won’t be there, even if he makes the qualifying times.

See: Pistorius’s unfair advantage keeps him out of Olympics | Athletics | Guardian Unlimited Sport

Hat tip to Andii over at Nouslife: Pistorius’s unfair advantage -the cyborg prosthete.

It’s an interesting question – how much enhancement should an athlete be allowed? Obviously, things like spectacles and contact lenses are allowed, as are various operations to fix/improve weak spots in a physique (e.g. replacing broken tendons) or corrective eye surgery. But something like taking performance-enhancing drugs or blood-doping isn’t. It seems like it’s going to get harder to differentiate between therapy/enhancement in sport as time goes on.

NPR ran a programme on Pistorius and enhancement in sport back in May last year. You can listen to it at: NPR : Prosthetics in Sports: Disability or Advantage?

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