In a new documentary, several managers and former athletes make sensational claims that widespread cheating occurs in Paralympic and Paralympic athletics. – There is always someone who wants to challenge the regulations, says the coach of the Norwegian national team.
– I can not say that this did not happen. It happens, says Xavier Gonzalez, who led the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) between 2004 and 2019.
He’s in Australia ABC News Documentary “Four Corners” Gonzalez and many others made surprising statements as they went to great lengths to say that there was systemic cheating in parasports and the Paralympics.
According to the investigations of Four Corners journalists, cheating mainly concerns a number of athletes who act to appear more vulnerable than they really are – because then they can compete in a class with competitors who have a higher chance of injury.
Both former athletes and people from various support agencies tell the program that it’s easy to game the system in which athletes are placed in different classes.
It’s very easy to overclassify, says Australian swimmer Madison Elliott, who brain paralysisbrain paralysisCerebral palsy is a collective term for a number of muscle control disorders that result from a one-time permanent injury to the brain. He won the gold medal at the Paralympics four times.
– There are people who just do it because they don’t win in their rating, and they want to compete in a rating where they can win, she adds in the documentary.
Co-athletes must pass exams before being placed in class. Only internationally accredited works can do this. The class you end up with could be, for example, about the degree of visual impairment or the size of a paralyzed body part. The goal of classification is for athletes in the same class to compete on the most equal terms possible.
– We had a so-called rating fraud, former leader Gonzalez assures ABC News.
Jane Buckley, who previously worked specifically to place co-athletes in the appropriate classes, claims widespread cheating is taking place.
– The level of misrepresentation that began after 2009 was shocking in some sports, especially in … swimming, she said, according to ABC News.
She described that the whole thing was just an “inside joke” in the Paralympic environment, and that her attempts to raise the alarm were met with resistance.
– I was asked to close my eyes, to let go.
– I remember at a time when I thought: Oh my God, this organization is more interested in medals than in doing the right thing, she adds.
Swimming coach for the Norwegian semi-national team, Kai Arild Poulsen, told VG he hadn’t heard of these specific cases. Nor did he notice that he was cheating himself.
– But I know that there is a lot of controversy over the classification. There are always those who want to challenge the regulations, he says.
Mette M. Berg has the same impression. She is a senior advisor at the Norwegian Sports Confederation and is responsible for rankings in Norway.
– You hear about cases when people cheat, you say.
Berg maintains that as far as she is aware, no Norwegian athlete has ever been caught cheating, but she has heard of it happening in other countries.
There are, among other things, stories of cheating being discovered when an athlete went into the food court – and suddenly moved much better than during the classification, says the Norwegian chief adviser.
– I would just like to say that those who work in the classification process are skilled and experienced, but it can be very challenging. And it says about medals to many, right.
Right now, we’re moving toward completely overhauling what’s called the “classification law,” which is the basic regulation of all ratings, Berg says. Obviously, it does not happen as a result of fraud.
– But it is very important that processes like this exist. Evolution is happening all the time, she says, and adds that the most important cheat detection measure is to educate the classifiers in the best way possible.
Australian swimmer and athlete Amanda Fraser is one of the athletes Four Corners has admitted to wearing herself out before ranking tests – looking weaker than she really is.
You’ve learned to stress yourself out and get tired, and to think of being the worst version of yourself when that happens. Everyone does that. I think it was just accepted. I think it’s easy to do for anyone with cerebral palsy.
When asked if this was cheating, Fraser replied:
As a result of the “four corners” discoveries, many people have advocated that classification systems should be reconsidered.
Trying to do things with the rankings to get an advantage is not something the Paralympic Movement can afford to do, says Gonzalez.
The private international federations in the different sports are responsible for the training and education of the classifiers. They must have an education appropriate to the classes they will work with, and for example be ophthalmologists or physiotherapists, according to the Norwegian Sports Confederation.
– If it is likely to be done by an independent person, as is the case in anti-doping with WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency), perhaps it will be useful, suggests Norwegian swimming coach Poulsen.
Both the Australian and British sports federations told ABC News that they were not aware of the ratings fraud.
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