Saturday, November 21, 2009

Athletes with intellectual disabilities will be allowed to compete in London 2012 Paralympics

From The AP:

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Athletes with learning disabilities will be allowed to compete in the Paralympics again at London in 2012.

The International Paralympic Committee general assembly voted on Nov. 21 in Kuala Lumpur to overturn the ban that had been in place since the Spanish basketball team was revealed to have cheated at the 2000 Sydney Games. Ten of the 12 Spaniards were stripped of their gold medals when it was revealed they suffered no mental handicap.

"Today's achievement is the outcome of a unique and excellent co-operation between sports governance and the scientific community," IPC president Philip Craven said in a statement.

The IPC said there will be a rigorous classification procedure, with medical files submitted for review before athletes proceed to on-site testing that focuses on "sports intelligence."

Full criteria for intellectually disabled athletes will be available early next year. Their inclusion will not reduce the number of athletes from other classes or events in 2012.

"I very much welcome this and am delighted that athletes with intellectual disabilities will be competing in the 2012 Games," said Tessa Jowell, the British minister for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. "It wasn't a simple decision, but nobody who's been at the Special Olympics would doubt that its competitors are every bit as committed as the Paralympians."