By Nick Butler

Heather Mills has been forced to abandon her attempt to qualify for the Great Britain team at Sochi 2014 ©Getty ImagesDecember 17 - Heather Mills, the model and former wife of Beatle Sir Paul McCartney, has been forced to abandon her attempt to represent Britain at next year's Winter Paralympics in Sochi due to an injury relating to friction created by her prosthetic limb.

But, her claim that the injury was precipitated by an equipment change enforced by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), has been strongly refuted by the governing body.

A statement from the 45-year-old's management company revealed she was "devastated" to have to abandon a qualification attempt which had looked increasingly probable after several strong results.  

The statement claimed "this week, Mills has been forced to add more weight to her ski leg, which is attached to her residual limb, creating bleeding, blistering and blood cysts - this additional weight caused more damage to her limb tissue.

"This situation has happened because she was forced by the head of the International Paralympics Committee, Alpine Skiing Sport Technical Committee, Sylvana Mestre, to wear a purely cosmetic, non-relevant full boot cover over her prosthetic leg, adding unnecessary weight and causing intolerable pain.

"She was told that if she did not comply with this ruling, that she would be disqualified.

"To be told after three years of intense training, just three months prior to the Paralympics in Sochi that she must add even more weight - weight that will further damage her residual limb - by someone who has no personal experience of skiing with a disability and makes decisions from a bureaucratic viewpoint rather than a human one, was deeply frustrating."

Heather Mills had enjoyed plenty of success on the international circuit...but injury has taken its toll on her Paralympic ambitions ©Getty ImagesHeather Mills had enjoyed plenty of success on the international circuit...but was unable to continue with the new boot ©Getty Images

In a similarly strongly worded statement, the IPC refuted these allegations and any responsibility for Mills' problems..

"Ahead of the 2013/2014 IPC Alpine Skiing season a memo was sent to all participating nations asking them to submit adaptive equipment for approval," they said.

"This is a process that is undertaken each year and involves all nations forwarding pictures and descriptions of the adaptive equipment that each athlete or guide will use during the coming season.

"The IPC Alpine Skiing Sport Technical Committee reviews each submission and sends written notification of approval or non-approval.

"Only approved adaptive equipment can be used in IPC Alpine Skiing competition, a rule that applies to all athletes within the sport.

"Heather Mills' submission was received on July 1 - written notification was sent from IPC Alpine Skiing to her coach on July 30 informing him that a standard ski boot had to be used for her approved ProCaver prosthetic.

"On Monday (December 16) it was noticed that the boot she is competing on is different to the one formally approved by the IPC Alpine Skiing Sport Technical Committee in July.

"As a result she was informed that she could not compete with the modified unapproved boot and that failure to revert back to the approved adaptive equipment would result in her disqualification."

Speaking to insidethegames, a IPC spokesman also expressed disappointment at Mills' claims that Mestre is someone "who has no experience of skiing with a disability."

In reality, she is a longstanding member of the Technical Committee who personally competed in two Games as a guide and has a son who is likely to qualify to compete at Sochi 2014, they claimed.

The spokesman added that "he finds it highly unlikely that Mills' injury is caused by us enforcing the rules."

Mills is certainly no stranger to controversy but her Paralympic dream has now ended in acrimonious circumstances ©Getty ImagesHeather Mills is certainly no stranger to controversy but her Paralympic dream has now ended in acrimonious circumstances ©Getty Images

Mills created widespread surprise - and some derision - in 2010 when she joined the British development team after announcing her ambitions to ski at Sochi 2014.

But, after a successful stint skiing at the second tier of international competition, Mills made her breakthrough in August with a slalom standing class silver medal at the Alpine Adaptive Slalom World Cup in Queenstown, New Zealand.

She subsequently looked poised to be selected for a British team chasing its first ever Winter Paralympic gold medal in Sochi, only for this latest injury-induced controversy.

A joint statement released by the British Paralympic Association (BPA) and the British Disabled Ski Team (BDST) expressed sadness that Mills' Paralympic quest is over, but also reflected the IPC stance. 

"On Monday December 16, the BDST were informed by IPC Skiing that there was an issue with the adaptive equipment that Heather Mills was using that needed to be addressed before she would be allowed to compete," they said.

"As a result of this and on the back of an injury, Mills has decided to resign from BDST, thereby removing herself from the selection process for the Sochi Paralympic Games.

"Occasionally in sport equipment issues arise, especially with adaptive equipment and the interpretation of the rules in relation to its use.

"Therefore we are all saddened that she has decided to retire at this stage, rather than working with the BDST and IPC Skiing to resolve the issue.

"Heather has shown determination and made great progress over the past few months and is to be commended for the success she's had in her skiing career."