In 2012, champion South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius became the first para-athlete to be allowed to compete with ‘able-bodied’ athletes in the Olympic games. Pistorius is a double lower-leg amputee who wore special prosthetic legs, called ‘blades’ to run. In 2008, he was banned from competing with able bodied athletes, on the grounds that his blades gave him an unfair advantage. Several expert scientists analysed his running technique. They concluded there was insufficient evidence for an unfair advantage, the ban was overturned, and Pistorius went on to run at the Olympics and the Paralympics of 2012. Blade technology continues to be a contentious issue. This article discusses some of the advantages and disadvantages of running blades compared to legs.

Blade Runners: Do High-Tech Prostheses Give Runners an Unfair Advantage?