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The Paralympics Swindle

Blades on Paralympic athletes
Blades on Paralympic athletes Image credit: theconversation.com

A BBC Investigation has revealed a number of athletes have exaggerated about their disabilities so they can compete in the Paralympics.

The File on 4 special also heard how disabled athletes have taken cold showers, taped their arms and undergone surgery just so they can qualify in the games.

Swimmers with cerebral palsy have given themselves cold showers to weaken their muscles, amputees have had more limbs removed to “advance their career”, a swimmer taped their arm for days so they couldn’t stretch properly and athletes who can walk have turned up to classification in wheelchairs.

There is also a debate on whether the classification system is fair which judges which group an athlete falls in on how severe their condition is.

Bethany Woodward, winner of the T37 200m sprint gave back her medal to the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) because one of her team-mates was “giving us an unfair advantage”.

She told the BBC: "[I was] heartbroken. I feel like we won a medal I don't believe was true.

“I don't want this medal any more... I can step away with a clear conscience.

"It's not about world records, gold medals. Paralympic sport is about disabled people pushing themselves and overcoming their diversity.

"Handing back this medal will mean all the medals I won are to do with me, my cerebral palsy and my strength."

Record-breaking hand cyclist Liz McTernan said: "There are people out there who only care about getting their funding from the national governing body and getting a gold medal around their neck.

"If I had a gold medal from faking it or being the least impaired person in my category, I wouldn't feel like it was worthwhile. It's akin to doping."

The IPC have previously warned athletes by pretending to be more disabled then they are they were in "grave danger of undermining the credibility of the sport".

However in a recent report the IPC found no clear evidence of "intentional misrepresentation" and no substantive evidence" which implied widespread cheating.

UK Athletics issued a statement to File on 4 which said it "made clear that UKA staff showed a strong desire to be ethically above board and see the sport's classification rules implemented consistently and without favour".

You can listen to BBC Radio 4 ‘Paralympic sport – Fair Play?’ on the BBC iPlayer.