By Tom Degun

SpainParalympics2000May 15 - Bob Price, the President of INAS-FID (the International Federation for Sport for Athletes with an Intellectual Disability), has warned that there must be no repeat of the Sydney 2000 cheating scandal at London 2012 which saw them banned from the Paralympic Games.

At the Sydney 2000 Paralympics, it was discovered that none of Spain's gold medal winning basketball team has an intellectual disability so INAS-FID athletes were banned from all Paralympic competition by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).

It was only after years of campaigning from INAS-FID, spearheaded by Price, that intellectual disability athletes were readmitted into the Paralympics for London 2012 at the IPC General Assembly in Kuala Lumpur last November.

Price, a former member of the IPC and former chairman of the British Paralympic Association, where he lead the British team at five summer Paralympics between 1984 and 2000, admitted that he was relieved to see intellectual disability athletes readmitted into the Games but that the scandal of Sydney 2000 must never be allowed to reoccur.

"It was the Sydney Games in 2000 that caused problems for athletes with intellectual difficulties," said Price, who also served as President of the European Paralympic Committee from 2001 to 2005.

"Spain won the basketball, only to have it plastered all over the media that they had cheated and had no athletes with an intellectual disability on their team.

"It was a terrible day for intellectually disabled athletes everywhere.

"The International Paralympic Committee said that they couldn't afford to risk this happening again.

"Unless INAS-FID could prove that they had a system in place to make sure such deliberate cheating couldn't happen in the future, they would have to ban athletes with intellectual disabilities from taking part.

"INAS-FID was suspended from membership of the IPC, meaning athletes with an intellectual disability were unable to compete in the 2004 Games in Athens.

"Athletes who had done nothing wrong were suffering and INAS-FID was told to get its house in order.

"In 2006, I was elected president of INAS-FID, and probably more than anything else, I took it on because the wrong people were being punished.

"Athletes with intellectual disabilities had already been excluded from Athens and were also about to be excluded from Beijing.

"The first thing I did was go to the IPC and set up a joint working party to identify what would satisfy everyone.

"Relations between the two had turned adversarial but I knew most of the personalities on both sides and was able to bring them together.

"We recruited academic researchers and sport science experts and eventually developed a layered system, first to identify genuine disability and then to relate that to the context of sport.

"In 2009, at its general assembly in Kuala Lumpur, the IPC formally acknowledged that its confidence had been re-established in INAS-FID.

"As a result, intellectually disabled athletes will be able to take part in swimming, table tennis and athletics during London 2012.

"When I heard the outcome of the vote, I was delighted that after so many years of watching from the sidelines, I was able to help move things along.

"We are gradually developing thorough tests and procedures for the rest of the categories - 19 in total.

"We want to make sure there is no possibility that what happened in 2000 can happen again.

"London 2012 has to be seen to work.

"These athletes have already missed out on the past 10 years."

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