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Scandal Taints Paralympics; Up to 100 Medals May Be Returned -- March 12, 2001

By Stephanie Peatling

SYDNEY, March 12. UP to 100 medals won at the Sydney Paralympic Games last year may have to be returned after the International Paralympic
Committee found that two-thirds of registration forms for athletes with intellectual disabilities were
invalid.

Australia, Great Britain, Poland, Russia and Spain are
among the 17 countries named by the IPC investigation commission set up after Spain's intellectually disabled basketball team was stripped of its gold medal when it was revealed that 10 of its 12 members had no disabilities.

Australia entered 30 athletes with intellectual
disabilities, including the swimmer Siobhan Paton, who won six gold medals. Twenty-five of them have been accused of submitting invalid forms and 14 medals
in swimming and track and field are at stake. Paton is not involved.

The chief executive of the Australian Paralympic
Committee, Brendan Flynn, said yesterday that all the athletes would receive the full support of the committee in its investigation of the claims.

"They are clearly administrative errors but are being
branded as cheats, so the IPC has a lot to answer for," he said. "We fulfilled all of our obligations
and all of these athletes have an intellectual
disability."

The IPC found "the process of assessment and certification of intellectually disabled athletes for the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games was not properly
carried out, supervised and audited both on a national and international level and holds INAS-FID, the international sports federation for athletes with an intellectual disability, responsible and accountable for these violations."

The INAS-FID was suspended from membership of the IPC.

The IPC said the results of the athletes would not be
revoked unless they were found to be ineligible for competition in the classification, but Spain has already handed back its basketball gold medal.

Flynn said Australia had never received any indication
that there was a problem with its entry forms. All the athletes held valid INAS-FID cards, which meant the international body had confirmed their eligibility.