Pistorius free to run again after judge relaxes bail restrictions

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Oscar Pistorius can leave South Africa to compete in international track meets, a judge has ruled as he upheld the Olympic athlete’s appeal against some of his bail restrictions.

And the international athletics body the IAAF says Pistorius would be allowed to run at this year’s world championships in Moscow in August if he qualifies.

IAAF spokesman Yannis Nikolau says there would be no objection from the world body to Pistorius competing at the worlds, saying “on the basis of the ‘innocent until proven guilty’ principle he would be free to run”.

Mr Nikolau says the decision on whether Pistorius could run at other events would be at the “discretion of meeting organisers” and not the IAAF. Earlier his agent said the championships could be “on the radar.”

Judge Bert Bam said Pistorius, who is charged with murder in the Valentine’s Day shooting death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, must travel under certain conditions. His passport will be held by a court while he is in South Africa, and he can only leave the country if he provides an itinerary of his travel plans at least a week before he is due to leave. Pistorius must also hand his travel documents back to the court within 24 hours of returning home.

The ruling in a North Gauteng High Court opens the way for the Paralympic champion, who is facing a life sentence if found guilty of murder, to run again.

Pistorius’ agent, Peet van Zyl, said: “Based on this (judge’s decision), and if he is up for it and qualifies, the world championships will definitely be on the radar.”

The judge’s decision was “fair”, Mr Van Zyl said, but any return to competition would be up to Pistorius, who hasn’t run competitively since September or trained for two months.

“He’s going to be the one that determines running and training,” the agent said. “It’s his call. He’s the one under all the pressure for the court case and grieving for Reeva.”

Although Pistorius’ lawyers said in the appeal hearing that he had no immediate plans to compete, he would likely need to return to the track in the future to earn money, they said. Pistorius himself, a double amputee widely known as the Blade Runner for his prosthetic legs, did not attend the court session.

“He has no desire to compete now but it might change and it will change,” defence lawyer Barry Roux told the judge in arguing for some of Pistorius’ bail restrictions to be eased. Mr Roux said Pistorius would not try and evade trial if he is allowed to travel internationally, and would eventually need to run again “to earn an income”.

“He is not going to run away and hide. He is going nowhere,” Mr Roux told the judge in the brown-walled courtroom in the high court, where television cameras and photographers were allowed in to record the proceedings. “Why stop him from travelling under controlled circumstances?” Mr Roux added.

Pistorius says he killed Ms Steenkamp accidentally when he fired shots through a door in his bathroom in the pre-dawn hours, fearing there was an intruder in his house. Prosecutors say he shot the model and reality TV star intentionally after they argued, and they have charged him with premeditated murder.

Pistorius’ last competitive race was his victory in the 400 metres final at the London Paralympics in September last year. He hasn’t trained or “seen a track” for around nine weeks, Mr Van Zyl said, but when he was ready they would consider both able-bodied and Paralympic events.