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Paralympics – Gaming the System?

Following a select committee inquiry into governance in sport, we ask whether some paralympic athletes are gaming the classification system to win medals.

Last year, File on 4 investigated whether some athletes and coaches game the paralympic classification system in order to win medals. We heard allegations that some competitors had gone to astonishing lengths such as taping up their arms to make their disability appear worse. A parliamentary select committee hearing followed into the way British paralympic athletes are classified and questions were raised over whether the system was fit for purpose.

In this programme, we examine further claims of athletes exaggerating or even faking a disability to get ahead in para sports. We look at the case of an athlete where concerns have been raised after they competed in several different disability classifications.

A paralympic gold medallist tells File on 4 of his concerns that young athletes are being manipulated by coaches to think they are more disabled than they actually are in order to get them classified into a more favourable category.

The programme also hears claims that UK athletes cheered a competitor from a rival country because they believed one of their teammates was cheating. Such suspicions have grown in recent years, the programme is told.

Reporter Simon Cox speaks to a former international classifier – the people responsible for ensuring athletes are placed in the right category – who reveals how it is possible for classifiers to be fooled and the pressure placed on them to put athletes in the most disabled categories.

The concerns raised by the programme come as a report by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee into sports governance which has examined classification in para sports is due to be published.

Reporter: Simon Cox
Producer: Paul Grant
Editor: Gail Champion

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