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|Jeff Skiba, who competes with one artificial limb, hopes to one day qualify for the U.S. Olympic trials in 2012.|
Skiba, now 24, wears a significantly different prosthetic than Pistorius. It is heavier and has a straight design, and he says it doesn't return energy the way the Cheetah leg supposedly does. But the key question is this: Does it give him an unfair advantage? "Speaking from experience for myself, I'm definitely not at an advantage," Skiba said. "Especially in the high jump, where I'm taking off from my sound leg. "If anyone has any controversy with me, I'd be happy to do any bio-mechanical study of my leg and how it affects my jumping. I'd be more than happy and open to that." Skiba says his 2-inch improvement in the high jump was due as much to additional training as to the new prosthetic. While the limb does provide an advantage over his previous artificial limb, he maintains that whatever advantage it gives him only gets him back to where an able-bodied athlete would be. "If I have one side of my car that can go 100 miles per hour and the other only goes 50, I'm not going to go 100. I'm only going to go 50," he said. "I can only go as fast as my good leg will go." Skiba says he has tried leaping off the artificial leg and he has been unable to jump anywhere near as high with it. But what if he found out the artificial leg did offer an advantage? "I can tell you from experience they wouldn't," he said. "But I don't know, that's one thing that could happen. I guess my approach would be if I can't compete, then what do I need to do to compete? Because I don't want to be at an advantage. I want to be at a level playing field with everyone else. It's the same thing with the whole doping thing. You don't want anyone with an advantage. I'd want to be as legit as possible." But what if Nike designers developed a prosthetic that could be slipped on and off normal legs like a shoe? Would it be a performance enhancer? Or just a really, really nice shoe? Everyone wants a level playing field. The problem is, as technology advances, one question only gets harder and harder: Just what is a performance enhancer, anyway? Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached here. His Web site is at jimcaple.net.