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Is Paralympic Cheating A Thing Of The Past?
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
September 17, 2004
ATHENS, GREECE--The Guardian published a story Thursday, reminding readers of the 2000 Paralympic Games scandal which led to all athletes with intellectual disabilities being banned from competition.
The International Paralympic Committee 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 Sydney had no disabilities.
One team member, Carlos Ribagorda, turned out to be a Madrid 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. Officials are not expected to lift the ban in time for the 2000 Paralympiad in Beijing, China.
"A lot of athletes around the world are devastated by that," Nick Parr, chief executive of the English Sports Association for People with Learning Difficulties, told the Guardian. "They have trouble understanding. There are English athletes who think that, as they are being punished, they must have done something wrong."
It is unlikely that banning all athletes with intellectual disabilities from the Athens games will mean the end of Paralympic cheating, however. During the Sydney games four years ago, eleven athletes were found to have used performance-enhancing drugs. In the Salt Lake City winter Paralympics two years ago, a German skier was forced to return two gold medals after testing positive for an anabolic steroid.
"The cheats" (The Guardian)
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