Sadly, we live in an era of cheating in sports. Girly men fraudulently compete in women’s sports. Athletes use performance enhancing drugs. College athletes accept under-the-table money. And in a mind-blowing story this week, it’s been alleged that some paralympic athletes are faking the severity of their disabilities in order to win sports competitions.
Xavier Gonzalez, a past executive with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), and several former athletes alleged that athletes lied about their disabilities so they could qualify for paralympic competition. Their claims were aired by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) in a report titled “Gaming the Games: The scandal threatening the Paralympics.”
ABC reporter Hagar Cohen’s six-month investigation concluded that aralympics competition is in crisis, because the world's third-largest sports event is flawed and easily manipulated. Rules are being bent and broken, cheating is rampant – and often without any repercussions. Jane Buckley, medical director for the Australian Paralympic team, called the level of cheating “mind blowing”.
Specifically, some paralympians intentionally exaggerate their disabilities. Others are tired of losing in non-impaired sports, so they game the paralympic games in hopes of winning fame and fortune. They stack the deck against actual impaired athletes.
“If an athlete appears more impaired when they are being classified, they will compete against athletes with more significant impairments,” Cohen stated.
Stuart Jones suffered a spinal cord injury in 2014. He recovered enough to compete in non-impaired cycling races after that, but in 2017, he won the para-cycling road nationals in three-wheeled trike competition. “I need to look disabled,” Jones allegedly told his partner, Sandy Kryzius.
Ex-paralympians said they were instructed to look fatigued during division classifications, to be the “worst versions” of themself, said paralympian Amanda Fraser. Everybody does it because it’s so easy, she added.
Australian gold medalist Amanda Fowler was a decorated non-disabled speed skater until she suddenly appeared on the national paralympic team. She also started walking with a cane. In 2016, Fowler changed her name to Amanda Reid (seen in photo) and won a gold medal at the Tokyo Games as a physically impaired swimmer with “cerebral palsy.” She also competed as a “visually-impaired” athlete and won the 2017 National NAIDOC Sportsperson of the Year Award.
Professor Ken Richter is a specialist in rehabilitation medicine who said he’d never seen a case like Reid’s. "Cerebral palsy is a stable motor disease originating in the brain that occurs around birth, and it's non-progressive. It doesn't go in and out, in and out," he said.
Twelve-time American paralympic gold medalist Jessica Long, a double-leg amputee, told Sports Illustrated she’s lost to athletes who had no business competing as disabled athletes during the 2016 Games in Rio. She says her sport is being destroyed.
Spain trashed the integrity of paralympic basketball when, in 2000, it won gold without any of its players displaying any “type of physical or mental handicap.”
Gonzalez said there were 80 investigations over alleged cheating from 2004-2019, but the IPC failed to pin a rap on anyone.
Buckley maintains the cheating is obvious though. "There are still athletes, currently, who are misrepresenting their abilities, not only in this country, but throughout the world. They are protected."
Pikers like these fake “paralympians” deserve one thing -- Oscar awards for their acting. On their way out of paralympian sports.
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