The British Paralympic Association (BPA) has today published a new UK Athlete Classification Code, placing athletes’ rights and responsibilities at the heart of the process and strengthening the approach taken to this fundamental part of Paralympic sport.
The new Code will provide greater clarity over the rights and responsibilities of all those involved in the process and set down clear guidelines within a strong overall ethical framework to ensure the British system remains world leading.
It will also support the implementation of the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) Athlete Classification Code in this country, making the UK one of the first nations formally to adopt the IPC Code at national level.
The BPA consulted with more than 390 stakeholders including sports and athletes throughout the drafting of the code, which has taken more than a year to complete.
Tim Hollingsworth, Chief Executive of the British Paralympic Association, said: “The classification of athletes is the bedrock of the Paralympic movement, without it competitive sport is not possible, nor meaningful.
“That is why I am proud of our pioneering work on this new UK Athlete Code, which clearly demonstrates the BPA’s leadership and commitment to enhancing the process to ensure it is better understood and delivered by all involved.
“Education for everyone engaged around the process – athletes, their families, the sports and other agencies in the sporting landscape – is crucial to this. We will do all we can to help those involved fully understand the new Code and system and have access to the necessary support and advice. This will include the option to raise any concerns directly with the British Paralympic Association where an individual feels it necessary to remain independent of a sport’s National Governing Body.”
The code aims to set out stage by stage how the classification system works and who is responsible for what throughout the process.
The BPA is committed to working in partnership to deliver a range of education programmes including a variety of resources for athletes and sports to ensure they fully understand the evolution of the classification process and ensure best practice is shared throughout the sporting system.
Other changes include a commitment to enable athletes to report genuine concerns over Intentional Misrepresentation (where an athlete attempts to deceive the classification panel as to the extent of their impairment) independently of their National Governing Body if they choose to do so.
““Education is at the heart of this as there is a lot of misunderstanding of the classification process and who is responsible for what which can arouse suspicion. Anything that helps everyone better understand this is to be warmly welcomed and I think this Code is a great positive step forward.”Sophie Christiansen
Sophie Christiansen, eight times Paralympic gold medallist and member of both the BPA’s Athlete Commission and Classification Advisory Group, which played a leading role in devising the code, said: “I believe open and transparent classification is crucial to the integrity of Paralympic Sport. I am delighted such a wide variety of athletes have had the opportunity to help shape this new code as it is vital we all take responsibility for driving up standards and understanding within the classification process.
“Education is at the heart of this as there is a lot of misunderstanding of the classification process and who is responsible for what which can arouse suspicion. Anything that helps everyone better understand this is to be warmly welcomed and I think this Code is a great positive step forward.”
Classification establishes who can and cannot compete in Paralympic Sport and groups athletes into sport classes, depending on how much their impairment impacts functional activities in each specific sport or discipline.
The new UK Athlete Classification Code comes into effect on 1 March 2018. Following an implementation period its adoption will be a condition of member of the BPA.
The new classification code can be downloaded here: UK Athlete Classification Code – 2018 Final