The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has published the final version of its 2015 Athlete Classification Code following approval by the General Assembly in November.
The Code, which is being released ahead of formal implementation in 2017, is said to have gone through three rounds of extensive consultation with the IPC membership, classifiers, athletes, officials and other interested stakeholders.
It provides policies and procedures for classification that should be common to all Para-sports and the Paralympic Games.
The IPC says it received more than 3,700 comments over the course of the consultation period which began in June 2013.
Two drafts of the 2015 Code were created and consulted on before a final draft version was submitted to the IPC Governing Board in June 2015.
The draft was then approved and submitted as a motion to the IPC General Assembly in Mexico City, where it was finally ratified.
"The new Code is a significantly successful step forward in the development of classification in the Paralympic Movement and I am very pleased to present the final version," said Anne Hart, chairperson of the IPC Classification Committee, the group that led the review.
"We have undertaken a thorough consultation process that has taken place over three years, and has attracted thousands of suggestions and comments from a diversity of organisations and experts, all of which have been carefully considered.
"International Federations and National Paralympic Committees now have some time to work out how they will adjust their processes and systems to meet the requirements of the Code.
"A strong classification system is integral to the success and growth of Para-sport around the world and I am very pleased with the high-level of engagement we experienced during the consultation.
"Thank you to everyone who took the time to feedback and I am confident that we are now in a position to strengthen classification even further."
Among the main changes made to the 2007 Code are the use of supposedly more accessible language and the removal of duplication between the Code and the International Standards.
Roles and responsibilities for all parties have also been clarified, including the IPC's monitoring duties, while responsibilities for the International Federations in developing Code compliant classification systems have been amended as well.
Relevant organisations now have until January 2018 to adapt their current processes where necessary to make classification procedures compliant with the 2015 Code, which can be viewed in section two, chapter 1.3.2 of the IPC handbook, accessible here.
The publication comes hot on the heels of IPC Swimming’s announcement that a three-year review into swimming’s physical and visual impairment classification is set to commence this year, aiming to help strengthen compliance with the Code.
It is claimed it will expand on research already undertaken in previous years and will involve institutions and experts from around the world.
Last year, the IPC stated its belief that alleged intentional misrepresentation during the classification evaluation process of athletes "is in grave danger of undermining the credibility" of Para-swimming and "overshadowing the performances" of the sport’s athletes.