Oscar Pistorius is the South African sprinter I mentioned in my piece The Accidental Cyborg -- a world-class runner who happens to have artificial lower legs and feet. Because of the shape of the carbon fiber prosthetics, his nickname is now "Blade Runner."
Here's the Blade Runner in action last Friday:
He was profiled in the Financial Times last week, in a piece that highlights many of the dilemmas arising from the intersection of augmentation technology and sports, and exploring what might come next.
Laboratory experiments with genetic implants on mice have produced massive muscle growth, and it is only a matter of time before such (perfected) experiments will be enacted on humans.
Precedent suggests that sports competitors will be the first to try them. Power-to-weight ratios will then go haywire, and world records could be reduced by 10 per cent. And who will know? It is difficult enough at present to test for an excess of naturally occurring body chemicals, such as testosterone.
If we don't see gene-doping in 2008, we'll almost certainly see it by 2012 Olympics. The next sports arms race may well be between athletes with enhanced genomes vs. athletes with super-prosthetics.