A NEW call was made today for athletes with learning disabilities to be allowed to compete in the 2012 Paralympics.
RADAR and the UK Sports Association for People with Learning Disability (UKSA) are calling on the Government and sporting bodies to do everything they can to persuade the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) to overturn its ban on athletes with learning disability, which was imposed in 2000, and to ensure adequate funding is available to secure their future for London 2012.
It follows the exclusive story by insidethegames earlier this month that the British Paralympic Association (BPA) that campaigning for the category to be re-introduced for the 2012 London Games.
The category was dropped aftrer controversy at the 2000 Paralympics in Sydney when Spain were stripped of their basketball gold medals shortly after the Games closed when Carlos Ribagorda, a member of the victorious team and an undercover journalist, revealed to the Spanish business magazine Capital that most of his colleagues had not undergone medical tests to ensure that they had a disability.
The IPC investigated the claims and found that required mental tests, which should show that competitors have an IQ no more than 70, were not conducted by the Spanish Paralympic Committee (CPE).
The IPC announced in 2003 that, due to serious difficulties in determining the eligibility of athletes, it was suspending all official sporting activities involving an intellectual disability and the category was dropped from the 2004 Athens Paralympics.
Mencap have also joined in calls for the category to be put back on the programme.
Now, in the wake of the news last week that South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius is to be allowed to compete in the Olympics, RADAR and UKSA have added their support.
In a joint statement Liz Sayce, the chief executive of RADAR, and Tracey McCillen, the national director of UKSA, said: "The clock is ticking for the London 2012 Games.
"If this ban is not rescinded before the end of the year it will be too late for the affected athletes to obtain funding and to begin the rigorous training regimes needed to compete in 2012.
"If that happens another generation of talented athletes will be needlessly denied the opportunity to represent their countries at the highest level thanks to needless continuation of this draconian IPC ruling."