Menu

Nominate your Able2UK heroes and losers

Want to nominate somebody as an Able2UK Hero or Loser?  Tweet us @Able2UK with #Able2Hero or #Able2Loser with your suggestions!

Paralympic boss denies accusations he pleaded guilty to

Fernando Martín Vicente (right) at the Sydney Paralympics with Miguel Sagarra (left) and then president of the International Olympic Committee, Juan Antonio Samaranch
Fernando Martín Vicente (right) at the Sydney Paralympics with Miguel Sagarra (left) and then president of the International Olympic Committee, Juan Antonio Samaranch Image credit: bbc.co.uk

In 2000 the Spanish basketball team beat the Russians winning gold at the Paralympics in Sydney, but it later emerged ten of the 12 players did not have any form of disability.

The scam was made public by a journalist who, after extensive research, revealed only two of the teammates had an intellectual disability.

Nineteen people including the ten fake players were later charged for being involved in the scheme which cost their Russian counterparts a potential gold at one of the most prestigious games in the world.

One person who was held responsible for the scam was Fernando Martin Vicente (pictured above on the right sitting next to  president of the International Olympic Committee, Juan Antonio Samaranch) , president of Spain’s Sport Federation for People for Intellectual Disabilities (Feddi) who, in 2013, admitted to the fraud which saw all other charges against the 18 defendants being dropped.

But now, eight years on from his confession Vicente has denied any wrong doing.

In a letter to the BBC the former president of the Spanish Paralympic Committee wrote: "How was it done? Who encouraged it? What doctors or professionals lent themselves to such a thing? Sincerely, I don't know."

He went on to say the accusations against him were “absurd and unfounded” and underlined the fact that his own daughter has an intellectual disability which, in he believes proves he had no involvement with the fraud.

However secretary of the Spanish Paralympic Committee Miguel Sagarra (pictured above on the left) said it was: "100% impossible that something of this relevance would have taken place without his knowledge".

The scandal had a knock on effect which saw a ban on athletes with intellectual disabilities competing in the following two Paralympics.

It also saw the two genuine players being forced to hand back their medals they won at Sydney 2000.

Ramon Torres was one of those athletes who rose his suspicion at the time that his teammates had a diagnosed disability but he was told this was incorrect by management.

Responding to the president denying any involvement in the scandal Torres said: "Fernando Martín says now he doesn't know anything about it – he can't do that," Torres said. "Of course he knew all about it. I thought he was a bigger man.

"He did something wrong. He should say, 'I am sorry,' and I would be very, very pleased."

Fernando Martin Vicente was fined €5,400 (£4,600) and ordered to return €142,355 (£120,500) in government subsidies which the federation received for the athletes without disabilities.