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Friday, 24 November, 2000, 22:23 GMT
Spain in Paralympics scandal
Spain basketball Paralympics
Spain's Paralympic team is under investigation
A Spanish gold medallist has accused the nation's Paralympic team of fielding athletes with no disabilties in order to win medals.

Carlos Ribagorda, a member of Spain's victorious basketball team, believes that nine team-mates did not undergo any tests to check for their eligibility.

"Of the 200 Spanish athletes at Sydney at least 15 had no type of physical or mental handicap - they didn't even pass medical or psychological examinations," Ribagorda said in the magazine Capital.

"The federation (Spanish Federation for Mentally Handicapped Sports, Feddi) didn't hesitate in signing up athletes without any type of handicap.


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

"The Feddi discovered that it could benefit from signing up athletes who had no physical or mental handicap."

But Feddi president Fernando Martin Vicente is adamant that there was never any wrong-doing involved.

"I am completely sure that no fraud has existed. All athletes have undergone the appropriate controls," he said.

Ribargorda went on to admit that he had played for the Spanish Paralympic basketball team for over two years but had no mental handicap.


The nation's Paralympics committee will open investigations looking into the accusations.

Spain's sports secretary Juan Antonio Gomez-Angulo has expressed concern over the recent developments.

"The accusations are serious and should be investigated thoroughly until the matter is resolved completely," he said.

"In sport, fair play should be more important than results - fair play means that everyone should participate on a level playing field."

Spain had their most successful Paralympics in Sydney, winning 107 medals to finish third in the medals table.

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