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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 November, 2004, 19:30 GMT
IPC to continue eligibility talks
The opening ceremony of the Athens Paralympics
Learning disability athletes missed out on the Athens Paralympics
The International Paralympic Committee has voted not to permanently suspend learning disability athletes from competing at the Paralympics.

The IPC had threatened the athletes with complete expulsion following an ongoing dispute over eligibility.

But they will now continue with discussions to try to find an acceptable solution to the problem.

The dispute centres around the IPC's demand for more robust criteria to measure whether an athlete has a learning disability.

The row over learning disability athletes erupted at the Sydney Paralympics when it was found that most of the members of the victorious Spanish basketball team were found not to be disabled.

It meant that events for athetes with an IQ under 75 were taken out of the programme for the Athens Paralympics, ruining many competitors' hopes of winning gold.

British Paralympic Association chief executive Phil Lane, who was at the IPC meeting in Egypt, admitted he was encouraged by the progress made.

"We are glad this process is going in the right direction but there is still work to be done and all parties will continue discussions," he admitted.

Mencap chief executive Jo Williams has also welcomed the IPC decision.

"We feel that it would have been a disaster for the whole Paralympic movement to have taken a final decision on the matter before every avenue had been explored.

"Now all attentions must be focussed on finding a permanent solution as quickly as possible," she said.

Swimmer gives up Paralympic dream
24 Sep 04 |  Berkshire

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