Athletes With Intellectual Disabilities Still Kept From Paralympic
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
September 10, 2004
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND--"Blatant discrimination."
That's what the disability group Mencap calls the International Paralympic Committee's continued ban on athletes with intellectual disabilities.
The IPC has not lifted its nearly four-year ban in time for next week's 2004 Athens Paralympic Games.
Dr. Geoff Smedley, chief executive of the UK Sports Association for Athletes with Learning Difficulty, told the Herald Thursday that the possibility of the IPC allowing those athletes to compete in the 2008 Beijing games are "no better than 50-50".
"I believe the IPC is making unfair demands, and learning disability competitors are not getting a fair hearing," Smedley said. "I believe the IPC is prejudiced."
The IPC stopped allowing athletes with intellectual disabilities to participate in January 2001 after it was learned that as many as 15 members of Spain's gold-medal winning Paralympic basketball team at Sydney had no disabilities. One team member turned out to be a journalist who wrote about the deception and described how Spanish officials' failed to discover the scam.
The Spanish team was forced to return their gold medals.
The IPC said that it would not allow athletes with intellectual disabilities to participate as long as there was no way to keep bogus athletes from cheating the system.
"Door to paralympics stays shut for learning disability athletes" (The Herald)