Kingsport-native, Paralympian Blake Leeper files appeal for Olympic eligibility

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Blake Leeper waves to the crowd before the men’s 400-meter dash at the U.S. Championships athletics meet, Saturday, July 27, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

NEW YORK (WJHL) — Paralympian Blake Leeper is appealing a decision that rules him ineligible to compete against able-bodied athletes in sanctioned competitions, such as the Olympics.

World Athletics has denied Leeper’s application to compete alongside able-bodied athletes in sanctioned events while using his prosthetic legs, according to a press release Thursday.

Leeper, a native of Kingsport, filed his application on July 3, 2019, with expert testimony claiming that his use of prosthetics does not provide him with an overall competitive advantage over able-bodied athletes.

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According to the press release, he appealed World Athletics’ decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sports on Thursday.

Leeper wants to participate in the 2020 Olympic trials and Olympic games. He issued this statement on Thursday:

“World Athletics’ decision to bar me from participating in the World Championships was a blow to all disabled athletes, but I will not be deterred. I trust in CAS to recognize that I do not have any advantage over able-bodied athletes. I just want a fair chance to compete. For as long as I can remember, I have dreamed of participating in the Olympics with the best runners in the world, and I have shown myself capable of competing with them. But I will need the help of the Court of Arbitration for Sport to make my dream a reality.”

Blake Leeper

Leeper was born without lower legs. In 2017, he broke Oscar Pistorious’s T43 paralympic world record in the 400 meters. He has never won Paralympic gold but did come in second and third behind Pistorious in the 400 and 200 in the 2012 London Paralympics.

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