View Full Version : from Pistorius to biomechanics

05-19-2008, 08:07 PM
I would like to propose a slightly different perspective on the
debate around the requests of Mr. Pistorius.

It is out of discussion that what I usually call body technology (any
man-made product that is designed to enter in contact with the human
body as part of its primary function) is becoming an important part
of elite sport. From footwear, to swimming suites, etc.

The idea of augment the physical capabilities of the human body with
man-made devices is foundational in the evolution of the homo
sapiens, so nothing new here. Also, I guess we as biomechanics
researchers should see positively any opportunity for research and
industrial investments in the development, assessment, comparison,
safety, etc. of such assistive devices. Things will only become more
complicated as we move to nanotechnology, implantable augmentations,

One way to face this is to follow the same approach used for
pharmacological augmentation. Pretend that it is possible to
separate what is given for healthcare from what is given for doping,
even if we all know this is almost impossible, and create a complex
control system, that is constantly circumvented, and then
readjusted. The real sport is then not about who run faster, but
about who breaks the rules without being caught. Those who are
familiar with motor sports like formula 1 know what I am referring to.

The other approach is to recognise that human intelligence is as
important as genetic makeup and motivation in training in the sport
performance, and to regulate this matter positively as follow:
- each augmentation must be released in the public domain at least
one year before adoption, to allow for extensive independent tests
- the proposers must demonstrate with peer-reviewed evidences the
safety of this augmentation
- any competitor must be allowed the concrete opportunity to obtain
the same augmentation at no cost

Am I so naif in this proposal? If yes, please do not flame me, I am
not an athletic type myself :-).

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