SEPTEMBER 14 - Athletes with intellectual disabilities are set to be allowed to compete again at the 2012 Paralympics in London after what will have been a 12-year absence.
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the International Sports Federation for Persons with an Intellectual Disability (INAS-FID ) made the announcement following the recommendation of a joint working group set up in 2007.
The IPC suspended the intellectually disabled categories after a member of the victorious Spain basketball team in Sydney 2000 admitted that only two of the squad of 12 were mentally handicapped with IQs under the qualifying level of 75.
It emerged that some members of the all-conquering team were engineers and holders of university degreesThe category had only made its Paralympic debut in Atlanta in 1996.
It has now been decided that the category can return in London in four years time provided the IPC and INAS-FID are able to monitor and control three main areas of concern, which are eligibility, sport specificity and on site protests and appeals.
"Significant progress is being made in all three areas and it is anticipated that systems, processes and procedures will be available for pilot testing during the early part of 2009,'' the IPC and the INAS-FID said in a joint statement.
"These systems are being developed using a scientific approach that is fully compliant with the new IPC Classification Code and engages actively with the relevant sports."
Numerous events at regional and world level will take place to allow continual assessment of athletes with an intellectual disability in a range of sports "to provide the joint working group with the evidence base necessary to test and refine the systems that will be required for successful re-inclusion," the statement said.
The IPC and INAS-FID expect to formally ratify the decision to restore athletes with an intellectual disability at the IPC General Assembly in November 2009.