Paralympic ban ends
Monday 23 November 2009
Learning disability athletes given the green light
Athletes with a learning disability have been re-included in the Paralympics following a vote by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) this weekend.
Athletes with a learning disability have been barred from competing at all IPC-sanctioned events since Sydney 2000 – it emerged that 10 of the 12 players in the gold medal-winning Spanish basketball team did not have a learning disability.
At the IPC General Assembly in Kuala Lumpar, the IPC membership body was asked to vote on a motion to lift the ban.
The motion was put forward jointly by the IPC governing board and INAS-FID – the international body for learning disability sport. Together, they have spent the last nine years working to develop a robust and acceptable eligibility and classification system.
The new classification process will include a ‘sports intelligence’ test as well as a review of athletes’ medical files.
Bob Price, president of INAS-FID, said: "Naturally, I am delighted with the outcome of the vote. Even though they themselves did nothing wrong, for nine years since Sydney 2000, ID (intellectual disability) athletes have been excluded from the Paralympic Games and other IPC sanctioned competitions".
Mencap has also celebrated the decision to lift the ban. However, it warns that unless funding is made available athletes will not be ready to compete at the London 2012 Games.
Mark Goldring, Mencap’s chief executive, said: “Everyone at Mencap is delighted that after years of campaigning, athletes with a learning disability will no longer be excluded from the Paralympic Games. However without immediate funding, British athletes will remain excluded from London 2012 despite the ban being lifted. This would be a national embarrassment.”