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September 21, 2017

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Pistorius controversy ignites Paralympics

LONDON -- South Africa's Oscar Pistorius is to meet the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) after he lost his first T44 200m race in nine years and said the length of his rivals' carbon fiber blades was unfair.

The 25-year-old runner, the first double-amputee to run at the Olympics and the most high-profile athlete at the London Paralympics, hit out after he was beaten on the line on Sunday night by Brazil's Alan Oliveira.

Pistorius, who runs on J-shaped "Cheetah" prostheses, complained that his fellow competitors, including Oliveira, were "a lot taller" and he was unable to compete with their stride length.

"You saw how far he (Oliveira) came back (down the home straight). We aren't racing a fair race... The regulations allow that athletes can make themselves unbelievably high," he said.

He added that he had raised the issue with the IPC but it had fallen "on deaf ears."

His complaint came amid lingering questions about whether carbon fiber blades give amputee runners an advantage and follows Pistorius' successful challenge of a ban against him running in non-disabled races because his blades were unfair.

IPC media and communications director Craig Spence revealed that Pistorius had telephoned him directly six weeks ago about the blade length of one of his rivals but was told there were no infringements.

The athlete was not Oliveira, he added.

Spence attributed Pistorius' comments to the disappointment of losing his first 200m race in nine years and said the IPC was "more than willing" to hear his concerns "in a less hostile environment" than a packed Olympic Stadium.

But he added: "Since 2010 we have had rules in place whereby in international competition we measure athletes in the call room prior to a race.

"Last night (Sunday) we measured all eight athletes in the call room prior to competition. This was done by an international classifier. They were measured, we had the signature of the classifier and all eight were legitimate to race."

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