By Tom Degun
November 21 - The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) will re-admit athletes with an intellectual disability (ID Athletes) back into the Paralympic Games for London 2012 it was announced today at the General Assembly in Kuala Lumpur.
After a cheating scandal at the Sydney 2000 Summer Paralympics, where a number of members of Spain's basketball team were discovered not to be suffering from an intellectual disability, INAS-FID athletes were banned from Paralympic competition.
But after years of campaigning from various groups involved with Parasport, including ParalympicsGB, the IPC today voted to reinstate intellectual disability athletes into the Paralympic Games.
IPC President Sir Philip Craven said: "Today's achievement is the outcome of a unique and excellent co-operation between sports governance and the scientific community.
"I want to thank all parties involved, especially the scientists, for their contribution and commitment over the last two years.
"I wish all ID athletes the best of success in their attempt to set world class performances at future competitions."
There are four sports targeted for inclusion in London 2012 - athletics, swimming, rowing and table tennis, although at this stage, the events schedule is unknown.
ParalympicsGB welcomed the decision taken by the IPC and Tim Reddish, the chairman of ParalympicsGB, said: "We have lobbied hard for the re-inclusion of athletes with a learning disability, subject to a robust classification system and are delighted that IPC and INAS-FID have got us to that point.
"We believe in the power of sport to positively affect all people’s lives and we advocate the involvement of as many people as possible across all disabilities in sport.
"The Paralympic Games represent the pinnacle of high performance sport, so any athletes with a learning disability will have to meet the same exacting performance and qualification standards as all other GB athletes - we will now work hard with the sports to ensure that these athletes are best prepared."
INAS-FID - the European Sports Federation with the responsibility of representing athletes with intellectual disability that played a huge part in bringing about the decision after a series of complex testing processes – also expressed their delight at the IPC’s decision.
Bob Price, the President of INAS-FID, said: "Naturally, I am delighted with the outcome of the vote.
"Even though they themselves did nothing wrong, for nine years since Sydney 2000, ID athletes have been excluded from the Paralympic Games and other IPC sanctioned competitions.
"This resolution brings this unfortunate episode to an end and re-introduces ID athletes to their proper place within the Paralympic Family.
"I am hugely grateful to the Joint Working Group and its associated research teams and I look forward to seeing ID athletes competing on the world’s stage in London in 2012.”
The inclusion of ID athletes will not reduce the number of athletes from other classes in events at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, the IPC said.
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November 2009: Lane confident on re-inclusion of ID athletes for London 2012
November 2009: Decision on athletes with intellectual disabilities for London 2012 due soon