Court clears Pistorius to compete abroad

Oscar Pistorius’s agent has said this summer’s World Athletics Championships is “on the radar” for the track runner after a judge said he could leave South Africa to compete in international events.

His agent Peet van Zyl did not rule out the possibility of Pistorius taking part in August’s event in Moscow.

“If he decides to run and goes there and if he qualifies — it is all ifs, ifs, ifs,” he said. “He hasn’t trained for more than eight weeks. He is a world-class athlete and he has to be prepared and he will not be under pressure to run.”

A South African court cleared the 26-year-old for international travel, easing stringent bail terms set for the Paralympian sprint star after he was charged with murdering his girlfriend.

Pistorius, whose athletics career has been on hold since the Valentine’s Day killing of Reeva Steenkamp, had appealed against a raft of bail conditions he said were unfair and unwarranted.

Pretoria High Court Judge Bert Bam said the initial magistrate’s decision last month to order Pistorius to hand over his passport was “wrong”.

“I find no reason why the appellant should be forbidden to leave the Republic of South Africa if invited to compete in athletics in other countries,” Bam ruled.

Pistorius will however have to submit his itinerary to the prosecution at least one week before travel and hand back his passport within 24 hours of return.

The double amputee known as “Blade Runner” — who faces trial later this year on a charge of premeditated murder — was not in court for the appeal, which was opposed by the state.

The judge also ruled that Pistorius could return to his Pretoria home where Steenkamp was shot dead in the early hours of Feb 14 and lifted a requirement for him to undergo random mandatory alcohol and drug tests.

Pistorius claims he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder when he shot her several times through a locked bathroom door with a gun he kept under his bed, but the state argues it was premeditated murder.

The defence argued the bail terms were tantamount to “house arrest” despite the runner having been cleared as a flight risk by the magistrate’s court last month.

“Why would this athlete go to a country without extradition and go and hide?” defence lawyer Barry Roux told the court yesterday.

After being freed on bail of 1m rand (€84,000) last month, the sprint star was ordered to surrender his passport and told to inform a corrections officer if he wanted to travel outside Pretoria.

“The law should be applied equally”, Roux said, adding that bail conditions should be “fair and reasonable” and not be “some sort of anticipated punishment of the accused”.

Pistorius last year became the first double amputee to compete against able-bodied athletes in the Olympics.

Pistorius will decide “if he wants to run again”, Van Zyl said, adding he has not resumed training. Roux said Pistorius wanted to be able to go abroad under controlled circumstances to be able to earn money.

“It is not as if the appellant is travelling for holiday in Mauritius; it’s only to gain an income, there’s no other reason,” Roux said.

The killing of 29-year-old Steenkamp saw several big name sponsors, including sportswear giant Nike and sunglasses maker Oakley, cut ties with the athlete. The Italian town of Gemona where he used to train also froze a five-year sponsorship deal.

Pistorius’s next court appearance is scheduled for Jun 4.


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