How disabled must a paralympian be?

How disabled must a paralympian be?

Controversy often surrounds the Paralympic games, due to the various types and degrees of disability of the athletes.

Derek Malone after being excluded from the Paralympic Games

Derek Malone says he keeps his cerebral palsy at bay by training

In the past, some have been exposed as pretending to be more disabled than they actually are.

This year, Irish footballer Derek Malone, who has cerebral palsy has been excluded from the Games after the authorities said his disability does not meet their minimal criteria.

His condition has been questioned before. He was forced to convince the authorities that he suffered from cerebral palsy before being allowed to compete in the 2004 Paralympics where he ran the 800 metres.

Derek Malone said he believed he was being penalised because he trained too hard.

Listen Listen to Derek Malone (31 secs)

Another person concerned at the classification system for the Paralympic games is the coach of the Dutch football team. Jan-Hein Evers' seven man side was comprehensively beaten by Russia. The score was 12-1.

Russia score a goal at the Paralympics

Footballers with cerebral palsy play seven-a-side matches

The footballers all have different levels of cerebral palsy. But the way they played in this match convinced Mr Evers that questions needed to be asked.

Listen Listen to Jan-Hein Evers (1 min 24 secs)

So how does the classification system work for the Paralympic games? And do some athletes deliberately cheat?

Europe Today's Audrey Carville spoke to Peter White, the BBC's Disability Affairs correspondent, who is covering the Games in Beijing.

First, on the Holland Russia football match, was it causing concern among the authorities there?

Listen Listen to Peter White (3 mins 54 secs)

First broadcast 11 September 2008

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For a guide on the classification rules for Paralympian sports, click here.

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