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IPC: Athletes With Intellectual Disabilities Can Compete In Future Paralympics
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 24, 2009

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA--After nearly a decade of being banned from the Paralympics -- by no fault of their own -- athletes with intellectual disabilities will be allowed to compete in the 2012 Games in London.

During this week's General Assembly in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia the International Paralympic Committee voted to allow such athletes to again be included in future games.

The IPC stopped allowing athletes with intellectual disabilities to participate in January 2001 after it was learned that 10 members of Spain's gold-medal winning Paralympic basketball team at the 2000 Sydney Games had no disabilities.

One team member, Carlos Ribagorda, turned out to be a journalist for a popular Madrid magazine. He wrote about the deception and described how Spanish officials' failed to discover the scam.

The Spanish team was forced to return their gold medals.

After the 2000 games, the IPC said that it would not allow athletes with intellectual disabilities to participate until there was a way to keep bogus athletes from cheating the system.

Athletes with intellectual disabilities and their supporters pressured the IPC to change its ruling, calling the ban a blatant form of discrimination.

In a statement released Sunday, the IPC announced that it had worked with the International Sports Federation for Persons with an Intellectual Disability (INAS-FID) to come up with a two-step, "evidence-based" process of screening out athletes that try to fake an intellectual disability.

The first step requires athletes to submit medical information to a INAS-FID International Eligibility Committee for review. After being approved by that committee, athletes will then go before a classification panel to be tested on their "sports intelligence" related to their particular sport. Criteria for determining "sports intelligence" has not yet been developed, but are expected early next year.

"It is just fantastic because it means we can build on this to give the ID athletes back their rightful place," said INAS-FID spokesperson Robyn Smith.

Before the 2000 scandal, eligibility was based simply on a psychologist's report, approved by a National Paralympic Committee member from the athlete's home country.

IPC Decides on Participation of Athletes with Intellectual Disability (International Paralympic Committee)
Mencap warn British ID athletes could fail at London 2012 unless funded (Inside The Games)

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