Spanish Paralympic exec resigns amid scandal
The vice-president of the Spanish Paralympic Committee resigned Thursday amid accusations that some players of the medal-winning Paralympic teams in Sydney suffered no disability.
A committee press release said Fernando Martin Vicente's resignation is effective immediately. It said he also resigned as president of the Sports Federation for the Intellectually Handicapped (FEDDI) which was responsible for screening some participants in the Paralympics in Sydney last month.
"There was an error in the psychological evaluation," said Martin Vicente Thursday in an interview with state news agency EFE. He said he received partial results of an ongoing investigation and said he accepts "total responsibility."
A committee news release said the investigation will continue and refused to provide preliminary results.
The Spanish sports world took a jolt last week when Carlos Ribagorda, a member of the country's gold medal-winning intellectually handicapped basketball team in Sydney, claimed that he and other medal winners were not mentally disabled.
Ribagorda, who made the allegations in Capital magazine for which he works as a journalist, said up to 15 members of Spain's Paralympic team, in categories such as track, table tennis and swimming, were not disabled.
Martin Vicente told EFE that "the process of psychological evaluation is very difficult because there are no amputations nor obvious physical defect. If someone wants to cheat, it's difficult to detect. It's easy to pretend you have little intelligence, but the opposite is difficult."
The Australian Paralympic Committee's chief executive Brendan Flynn earlier said he was suspicious of Spain's intellectually disabled basketball team. He said some of the Spanish players were so talented they could play in Australia's National Basketball League.