South Africa's Oscar Pistorius apologised on Monday for the timing of his outburst after losing his T44 200m title, but insisted there was an issue with large prosthetics lengthening an amputee's stride.
Pistorius, the star of the London 2012 Paralympics, was sensationally beaten into the silver medal position by Brazil's Alan Oliveira on Sunday, in a result that stunned the Olympic Stadium.
The 25-year-old then hit out at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), claiming it was not a fair race and he was at a disadvantage caused by artificial leg length, as the regulations allowed athletes to make themselves "unbelievably high".
"Not taking away from Alan's performance - he's a great athlete - but these guys are a lot taller and you can't compete [with the] stride length,'' Pistorius said in a broadcast interview.
"You saw how far he came back. We aren't racing a fair race. I gave it my best. The IPC (International Paralympic Committee) have their regulations. The regulations (allow) that athletes can make themselves unbelievably high.
"I would never want to detract from another athletes' moment of triumph and I want to apologise for the timing of my comments after yesterday's race. I do believe there is an issue here and I welcome the opportunity to discuss with the IPC but I accept that raising these concerns immediately as I stepped off the track was wrong. "
"We've tried to address the issue with them in the weeks up to this and it's just been falling on deaf ears."
While Pistorius tried to be more magnanimous later, he still claimed it was "ridiculous" that Oliveira could win after being eight metres adrift at the 100-metre mark and deny him a third straight 200 gold.
"He's never run a 21 second-race and I don't think he's a 21-second athlete,'' Pistorius said. "I've never lost a 200-metre race in my career."
Pistorius, who had both legs amputated below the knee, runs on carbon fibre blades, as does Oliveira.
"I would never want to detract from another athletes' moment of triumph and I want to apologise for the timing of my comments after yesterday's race," the South African said in a statement.
"I do believe that there is an issue here and I welcome the opportunity to discuss with the IPC but I accept that raising these concerns immediately as I stepped off the track was wrong.
"That was Alan's moment and I would like to put on record the respect I have for him.
"I am a proud Paralympian and believe in the fairness of sport. I am happy to work with the IPC who obviously share these aims."
Oliveira insisted he had not broken the rules, and expressed disappointment with Pistorius' criticism.
"He is a really great idol, and to listen to that coming from a really great athlete is really difficult,'' Oliveira said through a translator.
"I don't know who he's picking a fight with, it's not with me."
The 20-year-old Oliveira was backed by Paralympic leaders.
"There is a rule in place regarding the length of the blades, which is determined by a formula based on the height and dynamics of the athlete," the IPC said in a statement.
"All athletes were measured today prior to competition by a classifier and all were approved for competition." Paralympic officials, including the top medical official, agreed to meet with Pistorius after the race.
Oliveira could stand in the way of Pistorius and glory for the rest of the games, competing in all of his events.
Next up is the 4x100 relay on Wednesday before Pistorius defends his titles in the 100 on Thursday and 400 on Saturday.
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|William A. Cook|