Germany bars amputee long jumper
Markus Rehm's carbon-fibre prosthesis said to give an 'unfair advantage'
Associated Press in Frankfurt
Germany excluded an amputee long jumper from their team for the European Championships, saying the athlete's carbon-fibre prosthesis gives him an unfair advantage.
Paralympic champion Markus Rehm won the long jump at the German nationals last weekend with an effort of 8.24 metres. As German champion, that would normally qualify him for the August 12-17 Euros in Zurich.
But the German athletics federation, DLV, dropped him.
"I find it a pity and disappointing," said Rehm, adding that he would not lodge an appeal.
The case has parallels to that of Oscar Pistorius, the double-amputee South African runner who went to court to win the right to compete in the 2012 London Olympics.
DLV president Clemens Prokop said there was a "significant difference" between jumps with a blade-like prosthesis and natural jumps in run-up and lift-off.
"There is significant doubt that jumps with a leg prosthesis and a natural joint are comparable," Prokop said.
Prokop said biometric measurements conducted at the nationals in Ulm showed that Rehm's prosthesis might give him an unfair "catapult effect" that allows him longer jumps. He was also faster by a second per metre at take-off.
Other experts have questioned the measuring method.
The German federation of disabled sport said the decision was a "step backward" in efforts to bring equality between disabled and able-bodied athletes.
"I wish the DVL had been more courageous," said Karl Quade, vice-president of the disabled sports association, adding that the measurements during the championship were "not a solid base".
"I am not sure you can draw a valid conclusion that Markus Rehm had an advantage," Quade said.
Christian Reif, who finished second at the nationals, said of Rehm: "Advantage or no advantage, you are a winner for me because you showed everyone what athletes with a disability are capable of."
Alfons Hoermann, president of the German Olympic Committee, said it was a difficult decision for the athletics federation.
"It's a bitter personal disappointment for Markus Rehm. He made history last weekend with his outstanding performance,' Hoermann said.
He said the decision was just the beginning of a general discussion on whether disabled athletes should compete in regular competitions.
Prokop said "worldwide rules" were needed and that he would ask the IAAF to look into the issue.
Rehm, whose right leg was amputated below the knee, could appeal against the decision to the DLV's own arbitration commission or go to a regular court.
Pistorius waged a four-year battle to win eligibility to compete in the Olympics.
He ran in the 400m and 4x400m relay at the 2011 world championships and 2012 London Games.