Double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius won his appeal yesterday, and can compete for a place in the Beijing Olympics.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland, ruled that the 21-year-old South African is eligible to race against able-bodied athletes, overturning a ban imposed by the International Association of Athletics Federations.

"I am ecstatic," Pistorius told reporters in Milan, Italy. "When I found out, I cried. It is a battle that has been going on for far too long. It's a great day for sport. I think this day is going to go down in history for the equality of disabled people."

Pistorius still must reach a qualifying time to run in the individual 400 meters at the Olympic Games, but he can be picked as an alternate for South Africa's 4x400-meter relay without qualifying. That relay squad has not yet qualified for the Olympics.

Pistorius appealed to CAS, world sport's highest tribunal, to overturn a Jan. 14 ruling by the IAAF that banned him from competing. The IAAF said his carbon fiber blades give him a mechanical advantage.

Pistorius said he will be running in both able-bodied and Paralympic events before Beijing. His manager, Peet van Zyl, said the runner will compete in Milan on July 2 and the Golden Gala meet in Rome on July 11. Pistorius is expected to receive invitations from promoters around the world who want him to run at their meet.

Pistorius holds the 400-meter Paralympic world record of 46.56 seconds, but that time is outside the Olympic qualifying standard of 45.55.

Noteworthy

Olympic gold medalist Tim Montgomery's life continued its long downward spiral yesterday when a federal judge in White Plains, N.Y., sentenced the former "world's fastest man" to 46 months in prison for dealing in bad checks.

Montgomery, wearing a white T-shirt and baggy pants, lamented the turns his life has taken as he asked Judge Kenneth Karas for leniency.

"I've had everything I ever wanted in life," said Montgomery, who won medals in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics and set a world's record in the 100-meter dash that was later erased because of doping. "I've stood on the top of the mountain. The gold medal, all those people cheering, that was part of another world."

His lawyer, Timothy Heaphy, said Montgomery had been led astray by others, including track superstar Marion Jones, who has a son with Montgomery and is currently serving her own 6-month prison term. *