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Fake paralympians escape cheating charges

Published: 07 Oct 2013 16:18 GMT+02:00

It was one of sport's greatest ever scandals: in the year 2000, Spain's mentally disabled basketball team won Gold at the 2000 Summer Paralympics in Sydney.

The problem was that only two of the twelve players actually had a mental disability.

The lid was lifted on the deceit when Spanish undercover journalist Carlos Ribagorda published an exposé on how the team had cheated.

Ribagorda, who had secretly signed on as a member of the winning team, revealed that Spain's Spanish Paralympic Committee had never tested the players for the mental disability.

"The federation (Spanish Federation for Mentally Handicapped Sports (Feddi) didn't hesitate in signing up athletes without any type of handicap," the journalist wrote in Spain's Capital magazine.

"They just sent them an official letter - the aim of this policy was to win medals and gain more sponsorship."

After the revelations were published, the Sydney 2000 gold-winning medal team had its medal stripped and Russia was awarded the medal.

At the time, Fernando Martin Vicente said the allegations were not true, but he later apologized for the incident.

Now, 13 years later, Martín Vicente is finally receiving official punishment — on Monday he was fined a total of €5,400 ($7320).

The ex-president of Feddi has also paid back €142,355 in subsidies the organization received by signing on 'false' disabled athletes.

Charges against the other 18 people named in the investigation were dropped.

George Mills (george.mills@thelocal.com)

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