Pistorius's races cancelled to focus on murder defence: agent
Published Sunday, February 17, 2013 9:29AM EST
Last Updated Sunday, February 17, 2013 10:43PM EST
Oscar Pistorius’s agent has cancelled all of the Olympian’s future races so he can focus on defending himself against a murder charge in the shooting death of his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day.
Pistorius’s agent, Peet van Zyl, issued a statement after visiting his client at the Pretoria police station where he is being held, saying there was “no option but to cancel all future races that Oscar Pistorius had been contracted to compete in to allow Oscar to concentrate on the upcoming legal proceedings.”
Van Zyl said Pistorius had been scheduled to race five times in the first half of 2013. Talks for Pistorius to race in other events have also been called off.
Pistorius has been held at the police station since his arrest in connection with the death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Police were called to Pistorius’s home early on Feb. 14 and found Steenkamp, 29, unresponsive and covered in blood. She had been shot four times, and a 9 mm pistol was recovered at the home. Steenkamp died at the scene.
Van Zyl’s statement came on the heels of a local news report in South Africa that reported police are trying to determine whether a cricket bat covered in blood found at Pistorius’s home played a role in the young woman’s death.
The City Press report indicated that investigators are trying to determine whether Steenkamp was assaulted before she was killed.
The report, quoting anonymous sources, said police are working on a number of other theories to explain the bloodied cricket bat, including whether Steenkamp used the bat in self-defence. It was also reported that Steenkamp hid from Pistorius in the bathroom, and he may have used the bat to break down the door.
The City Press report quoted an unnamed source who said, “There was lots of blood on the bat,” which had been sent for forensic testing to determine who the blood belonged to.
The report also said that police asked that Pistorius’s blood be tested for steroids and other drugs.
Pistorius was arrested and charged with murder, and remains in custody ahead of a bail hearing scheduled for Tuesday. He has not entered a plea in the case.
On Saturday, members of his family spoke out to deny the charges against the 26-year-old.
The Olympian’s uncle, Arnold Pistorius, issued a statement saying that his nephew is “numb with shock, as well as grief,” and criticized the prosecutions’ decision to seek an upgraded charge of premeditated murder.
"After consulting with legal representatives, we deeply regret the allegation of premeditated murder," Arnold Pistorius said. "We have no doubt there is no substance to the allegation and that the state's own case, including its own forensic evidence, strongly refutes any possibility of a premeditated murder or murder as such."
In South Africa, a charge of premeditated murder carries a life sentence.
The case has made headlines around the world due to Pistorius’s international celebrity and his inspiring tale of overcoming being a double-amputee to be a world-class Paralympic runner. He was also the first amputee to compete at an Olympic Games when he ran the 400 metres and 400-metre relay last summer in London.
Van Zyl said Sunday that Pistorius’s endorsement deals with high-profile brands such as Nike and Oakley remained intact for now.
“I can confirm that at this point in time all parties are supportive and their contractual commitments are maintained," Van Zyl said. "They have said they are happy to let the legal process take its course before making any change in their position."
Early reports suggested Pistorius accidently shot Steenkamp, believing her to be an intruder. Police have publicly said they doubt that claim, and the City Press report quoted police sources as saying investigators had ruled out that possibility.
A memorial service for Steenkamp has been scheduled for the same day as Pistorius’s bail hearing. The 29-year-old was a former model and a law-school graduate who had appeared on a South African reality show. Statements made by Steenkamp during the show aired Saturday.
"I think the way that you go out, not just your journey in life, but the way that you go out and the way you make your exit is so important," Steenkamp says in the video. "You either made an impact in a positive or a negative way, but just maintain integrity and maintain class and just remain true to yourself.
"I'm going to miss you all so much and I love you very, very much."
With files from The Associated Press