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The Point of No Return?

After being charged with premeditated murder of his girlfriend, the status of Oscar Pistorius’ future is brought into question.  Athletes seem to dodge scandals, but it will be interesting to see if murder, even in self defense, is something that he can get past.

How big of a controversy is needed to keep an athlete from performing?  In this day in age, homicide may not even be enough to end an athlete’s career.

This is something to be determined as the case of Oscar Pistorius progresses.  After being charged with premeditated murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, Pistorius successfully posted bail on Friday, February 22.  However, he has not been acquitted, and, under bail conditions, must visit correctional officers several times a week, until he is trailed.

Oscar Pistorius has made quite the name for himself as “blade runner”.  Despite having both of his legs amputated below the knee at only 11 months old, Pistorius is a successful sprinter.  In the 2012 summer olympics, he became the first double amputee to compete in able-bodied events.  He also won two gold medals and set two world records in the Paralympics.  Until recently, he was highly revered for his ability to overcome his disability, and was viewed as a symbol for the strength of the human spirit.

Oscar Pistorius with a South African flag after winning gold in the Paralympics. www.guardian.co.uk

Oscar Pistorius with a South African flag after winning gold in the Paralympics. http://www.guardian.co.uk

However, over the last couple of weeks, questions have piled up regarding the character of Oscar Pistorius and the future of his career.

One of Pistorius’ lawyers,  Kenny Oldwage, was quoted saying, “He just wants to get on with his life.”  But get on with his life in what way?  Does Pistorius have the capability to salvage a career facing such a controversy?

Since the incident, Pistorius has been dropped by several of his sponsors, including Nike and Oakley.  However his long time coach, Ampie Louw, told reporters, “The sooner  he can start working out, the better.”

This still despite the fact that Pistorius has already dropped out of several events which were due to occur over the next few months.  The longevity of his career relies heavily on the outcome of the trial, and, if found innocent, it would not be shocking if he reentered the world of track and field.

We are not strangers to controversy in sports.  Tiger Woods continued his career despite a sizable sex scandal.  Ben Roethlisberger was accused of rape and still plays in the NFL today.  Micheal Vick has made a comeback to football after serving jail time for dog fighting.  Not even murder is new.  Ray Lewis, an impact player on the recently crowned Super Bowl Champion Raven’s, was accused of murder, yet still continued a hall of fame career.

Unlike Ray Lewis, Pistorius has admitted to killing his girlfriend, even if accidentally.  It will be interesting to see how the world-renowned “Blade Runner” will fare in the world of athletics.  Will he return to prominence as an Olympic Athlete, or will homicide finally be the controversy powerful enough to end the career of an athlete.

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