How Spain's cheating destroyed Paralympic dreams

misskarne

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Came across this article yesterday and found it interesting - in a bad way.

Okay, okay, the ABC's article is a much more moderately titled "Sydney Paralympians relive Spanish basketball cheating scandal" but really, the above thread title wouldn't be astray.

Context: There are, naturally, a lot of flashback articles this year, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Sydney Olympics. Some really great stories being told, from the wonder of Cathy Freeman's run to articles about people in the nichest of sports who won a medal.

Not all of them have been positive (the vault table scandal got a run) but this one absolutely broke my heart. I was only 12, so I don't remember it that well, but it's appalling.

Worst of all, the only ones who ended up with any kind of punishment were the innocent ID athletes who were blanket-banned from all Paralympic competition for 12 years. The mastermind, the president of the Spanish ID fed? He got a paltry $7700 fine for fraud, while athletes had their lives ruined.

Riding a wave of national enthusiasm following the Olympics weeks earlier, the Boomerangs were confident of a top placing.

But after meeting Spain in the earlier rounds, coach Tony Guihot said many felt that the playing field was not fair.

"We had our concerns that there may have been something going on, but we couldn't put our finger on it," he said.
Mr Lee said the Spanish team "flogged" them.

"They blew everyone off the court," he said.

"I suspected it, but I didn't voice it. I thought 'bloody hell' … it was a totally different team."

Swimmer Siobhan Paton was one of Australia's top performers at the games, winning six medals.

The teenager continued to train for the next four years in the hope of competing at Athens.


After being told she could not complete, she spiralled into a depression that has lingered for the better part of two decades.

"I ended up in hospital for six weeks, I was dejected, angry … I still live with my depression," she said.

"I didn't want to look at my gold medals, I did something very great and I felt like it was taken away."
While the period is among the darkest of her life, she said it was an important reminder of the harm cheating could cause.

"It could happen again if people are not careful, and they need to know it hurts," she said.
 

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