Will Oscar Pistorius compete in the Olympics again?

Oscar Pistorius faces a temporary ban from the Paralympics and ambiguity from the Olympic committee. But by 2019, the 'blade runner' could return to the track.

Matt Dunham /AP/File
South Africa's Oscar Pistorius competes in a qualification round for the Men's 4x400m relay at the World Athletics Championships in Daegu, South Korea in September 2011. Double-amputee Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius has been sentenced to five years in prison for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius, who shot and killed Steenkamp through a toilet cubicle door in his home last year, had earlier been convicted of culpable homicide, or negligent killing.

Oscar Pistorius will not compete in the Paralympics for five years, according to officials, barring the ‘blade-runner’ from Rio Olympics in 2016 and raising questions about whether he’ll make a bid for Tokyo in 2020.

The five-year ban handed down by International Paralympic Committee (IPC) guidelines will stand regardless of whether or not he serves the full five-year jail sentence for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day last year.

“Any athlete who is serving a sentence for a criminal conviction is not eligible to participate in IPC sanctioned competition,” says Craig Spence, spokesman for the IPC. “Therefore due to the five-year sentence handed down today, the earliest he would be allowed to compete again is 2019.”

“Once he has served his sentence in full he would be eligible to compete again if he so wished,” he adds.

Pistorius could be released after as few as 10 months for “good behavior” and serve out the rest of his sentence under house arrest, but “The only way he could compete earlier is if he or his team appealed and got a lesser sentence,” Spence confirmed, according to the Daily Mail.

Though the arrival of 2019 will open up Pistorius’s eligibility, the now-27-year-old double-amputee Olympic runner will be 32 (by the start of the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics he will be nearly 34), and it remains to be seen if he will seek – or be physically able – to train and compete again.

Spence also told The Telegraph the IPC has sought to differentiate between what goes on in the Paralympic Movement relating to Oscar Pistorius, and what goes on in his private life, and pointed to other factors that could limit the track star’s paralympic participation.

“Will Pistorius even want to compete again? Will he get the qualifying criteria necessary for him to compete in IPC events?” he said. “And will he be selected by the South African Paralympic Association as a member of their team or squad? There are many criteria which will have to be fulfilled.”

“But the Paralympic Movement has never been about one person, and it never will be,” said Spence, insisting it would progress without Pistorius and citing a host of new stars that emerged at the Sochi Games.

“Pistorius’s dominance of the sprint events diminished at the London 2012 Games. He won gold in the 400m but was superseded in the 200m by Brazilian Alan Oliveira, while Briton Jonnie Peacock and American Richard Browne have emerged as the new stars of the 100m,” according to The Telegraph.

The International Olympic Committee was somewhat more ambiguous about Pistorius being allowed to compete in Rio in 2016 or Tokyo four years later.

“We take note of the court’s decision,” said IOC spokesman Mark Adams. “This is a human tragedy for the family of Reeva Steenkamp and also for Oscar Pistorius. We hope very much that time will bring comfort to all those concerned but at this stage we have no further comment to make.”

In September, the South African Olympic committee said Pistorius would be free to race for his country despite his murder conviction. Before the sentencing but after being found guilty of culpable homicide, the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic committee’s chief executive Tubby Reddy told the Associated Press Reddy as long as judge Thokozile Masipa did not make any ruling that prevented it, he could run for South Africa.

“As he stands right now, he’s free [to compete],” he said.

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