Did actions at 2012 Paralympics eliminate Para Sailing?

Published on January 31st, 2023

Following the announcement by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) that Para Sailing would not be a sport at the 2028 Paralympic Games, among the nations expressing their disappointment was Great Britain, but as 2000 Paralympian Keith Burhans (USA) reports, the British Team may have contributed to the problem:

I offer my sincere thanks and kudos to World Sailing for investing resources and energy into the #BacktheBid campaign and growing international Para Sailing. However, I was not surprised when Para Sailing was not included in the LA 2028 Games and I seriously doubt it will be invited back anytime soon.

When the IPC dropped Para Sailing in 2015, the reasons given were all legitimate. Not enough countries from around the world, younger participants, etc… all of their stated reasons had merit, but they were probably not the real reasons.

After the Sydney 2000 Games, a sport called Basketball ID – a form of basketball adapted for players with intellectual disabilities – was dropped from the Paralympic Games when it was learned the Spanish team had cheated in Sydney. The sport was done. The IPC doesn’t tolerate cheating. (Google: Sydney 2000 Games cheating)

But the elephant in the Para Sailing room which is never, ever talked about is the 2012 Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) hearing, brought by the British Team, that ultimately destroyed the International Association Disabled Sailing (IFDS), the former International Governing Body.

The three-person keelboat team for the British at the London 2012 Paralympic Games were penalized due to unauthorized maintenance, costing them a medal, and when the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) submitted an appeal to the CAS, the IFDS approached bankruptcy due to the legal costs.

If you read the CAS brief, pages 20-22 include the IPC rules that (to summarize) state that the decisions made by IPC officials are final.

So, the unasked/unanswered question is… did the IPC consider the CAS hearing to be cheating? I wonder if the IPC is still waiting for the British Team and RYA to formally apologize for their breach of the IPC rules?

I am confident in stating that many of the other Para Sailors around the world would appreciate them addressing this issue with contrition. Who knows… admission and apology might make the difference for future inclusion. Or perhaps it was already done and it didn’t make a difference. That we will never know.

The true irony of the IPC dropping Para Sailing is that the British Team were the very rare ‘paid professionals’ in our sport… with perhaps the most to lose… and that I think, is called ‘karma’.

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