Spanish official fined for fielding athletes without disabilities at Paralympics

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The former head of the Spanish Federation for Mentally Handicapped Sports was fined $7,300 and ordered to return nearly $200,000 in government subsidies following a 13-year-old Paralympic scandal.

A Madrid court found Fernando Martin Vicente guilty of fraud, according to Agence France-Presse.

Spain’s intellectual disabled men’s basketball team that won 2000 Paralympic gold was at the center of the scandal.

Spain was ordered to return its basketball gold medals in December 2000. It won all of its games at the 2000 Paralympics by at least 15 points, including a 67-point drubbing of Japan. Japan also lost by 105 points and 79 points to other nations.

The U.S. was not entered in the intellectual disabled basketball tournament at the 2000 Paralympics.

The scandal broke in November 2000 when Carlos Ribagorda, a member of Spain’s gold medal-winning intellectually handicapped basketball team in Sydney, claimed that he and other athletes in categories such as track and field, table tennis and swimming were not mentally deficient.

“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,” he wrote in the magazine Capital just days after the Paralympics ended.

Ribargorda said he had played for the Spanish Paralympic basketball team for over two years but had no mental handicap.

Intellectual disabled basketball was removed from the Paralympic program after the 2000 Games.

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