In a significant development, Britain’s successful Paralympic athletes are set to face a parliamentary hearing on winning gold medals unfairly, questioning the classification system put it place, reported The Guardian.
Classification campaigner Michael Breen, who’s daughter Paralympian Olivia Breen has cerebral palsy and is a long jump world champion, has accused UK Athletics of manipulating the system in order to win more medals. Michael claims that the federation is knowingly fielding athletes in competitions where their disability is less severe compared to other participants.
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) oversees the classification system across 10 different disability sports. The IPC has to ensure that athletes compete against others with a similar level of disability, but Breen says the system lacks accuracy.
Breen, who represents a group of parents across different sports and disciplines, said he will use parliamentary privilege to name the athletes who he believes are competing in the incorrect categories.
“This hearing is monumental,” Breen said. “You can tell that by the way the IPC has been trying to get its house in order. The people at the top of UKA and different governing bodies have exposed the loopholes in classification. They have taken it as a green light to do whatever they wish and expect UK Sport to turn a blind eye because they see the great number of medals coming in. It’s terrible because we’re talking about disability sport and the people who win the medals are supposed to be the best athletes, not the people who have misrepresented themselves to be more disabled than they actually are.”
According to a BBC news report in March 2017, a UK Athletics review said that the classification system for British track and field para-athletes ‘could be abused’ and is ‘open to exploitation’.