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AFP
October 27, 2020

CAS rules Paralympian Leeper cannot run in Olympics

Sports

AFP
October 27, 2020

PARIS: The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Monday ruled against American Paralympian Blake Leeper’s attempt to compete in next year’s Tokyo Olympics wearing prosthetic legs.

The 31-year-old Leeper, who was born without lower legs, won silver in the 400 and bronze in the 200m in the T43 class at the Paralympics in London in 2012 but wanted to emulate South African Oscar Pistorius, nicknamed ‘the Blade Runner’, who competed in the Olympics that year.

Leeper was appealing a decision by World Athletics (formerly the IAAF) in February to ban him from competing with his blade-shaped prostheses.

While CAS said in its ruling that it upheld Leeper’s argument that the World Athletics (WA) rule was “unlawful and invalid”, it also decided that the prosthetics gave him a “competitive advantage.” Leeper’s lawyer reacted to the ruling by accusing CAS of racism.

CAS said it was unfair that WA’s rule “places the burden of proof upon an athlete” but it agreed with the intention to allow disabled athletes to compete without using “mechanical aids that do more than compensate for the effect of their disability.”

After hearing expert witnesses, CAS said it had “concluded that the running-specific prostheses used by Blake Leeper indeed gave him an overall competitive advantage in the 400m event over an athlete not using such a mechanical aid since they enabled him to run at a height that was several inches taller than his maximum possible height if he had intact biological legs.” Leeper broke Pistorius’s world record in the T43 400m in 2017.