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Class issues surface at Beijing Paralympics -

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ELEANOR HALL: Paralympians at the Beijing Games are falling foul of the classifications designed to
create a level playing field for disabled athletes.

Three Paralympians have now been disqualified for being too able-bodied, the latest one lost her
silver medal in the process but perhaps more publicity was given to the poor sportsmanship of an
Australian athlete who refused to shake her hand.

The chef de mission of the Australian Paralympic team, Darren Peters, has been speaking to Karen
Barlow about the incident.

DARREN PETERS: Amanda made a mistake. She has been spoken to by the team management and in
particular, she is apologetic about it and I am sure that will never happen again.

I think the intensity of the moment got to her and also the problems that always surround anyone's
views on classification which is one of the most difficult things we ever deal with in Paralympic
sport.

KAREN BARLOW: Indeed. It has come up quite a few times. It does seem very difficult to police.

DARREN PETERS: It is. Look there are 20 incidences that I know of to do with classification issues
and the IPC on the whole does a wonderful job trying to manage it.

It is just such a complex area when you look at an athlete and what they can do and then what they
can't do and try and categorise athletes via their disability type and in this case it was cerebral
palsy and for example in cerebral palsy there's eight classes.

So it goes from CP1 down to CP8 so you know, and getting a grading in between can sometimes be
subjective so there are a heap on independent experts and world-class doctors and functional
experts that get involved in making judgements. So it is difficult.

KAREN BARLOW: Has Amanda Fraser been sanctioned in any way? Has she been reprimanded? How do you
class what happened to her?

DARREN PETERS: She has been counselled and we have spoken to her and our athletics team management
have been very keen in their advice to her as have we.

I only saw her in the food hall this morning. Look, she is a great young girl and she has admitted
she has made a mistake and moved on.

KAREN BARLOW: Fraser was proved right in her anger about the controversy in that the athlete,
Rebecca Chin, was later disqualified.

DARREN PETERS: Yeah, look, I don't think I would like to say proved right. I think what happens is
that sometimes mistakes in classification are made and a judgement today is only as good as that
judgement on that day and then when you see someone in action, you see a bit more movement shown or
a bit more ability to throw because of a movement that you didn't think they had there and that is
when the judgement gets changed.

KAREN BARLOW: But is the system wrong or is it just going to always be too difficult?

DARREN PETERS: No, no, it is not wrong. It gets to the point where you need, you really do need to
be tested thoroughly before you get to a Paralympic Games.

I think every country, like us, and every other country needs to send their athletes away more to
where the international classifiers are and we need to make sure that they see every athlete and
are very comfortable with their category so that we don't have these issues at a games.

KAREN BARLOW: There has also been the controversy of race protests at the Paralympic Games. Kurt
Fearnley has decided to move on after withdrawing his protests against the running of the 800m
event in the Birds Nest.

He was put in the wrong lane. How can that happen at a big event like the Paralympics?

DARREN PETERS: Look, I don't know. I really don't know and it is one of those things that happens
at a race where you just think the marshals would line them up the right way.

They informed the marshals that they were in the wrong lanes, the athletes. The race started and
Kurt raced. He came second. Unfortunately as a matter of process our team management always put in
a protest about issues like that. It is the way we operate.

Then the Great Britain team were upset thinking that we were having a go at them. Kurt, the
champion that he is, withdrew. He really is, acted in the spirit of fair play and he has done more
than enough there to demonstrate the Australian sportsmanship.

ELEANOR HALL: That is the chef de mission of the Australian Paralympic team, Darren Peters,
speaking to Karen Barlow.