Spain’s moment of shame: The 2000 Summer Paralympics

Harry Kettle

Cheating within the world of sport is hardly a rarity, in fact it’s an ongoing fight that brings a number of events into disrepute. For every Mo Farah, there’s a Lance Armstrong, and the worst part is that some people will claim there’s nothing to differentiate between the two. With that being said, there’s one case study that stands head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to disgracing sport.

In this instance, the guilty party is the Spanish basketball team from the 2000 Paralympics. The games had already been subjected to a number of positive drug tests, which led to every single competitor being examined with a magnifying glass from head to toe; but the Spanish team went one further.

Sydney, 2000: Spanish basketball team - Image Source: Daily Mail
Sydney, 2000: Spanish basketball team – Image Source: Daily Mail


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As such one of the members of the team, who had collectively won gold in a 87-63 final victory over Russia, decided to reveal to the world that most of the triumphant victors had not undergone medical tests to ensure that they had a disability.

Carlos Ribagorda was also an undercover journalist, which makes his inclusion in the side about as bizarre as you can get. The required mental tests ensure that there can be nobody competing that has an IQ over 70, which is a truly painful indication of just how far this nation was willing to go in order to ensure success.

Ribagorda, proving that heroes don’t in fact wear capes, made it apparent that participants in a number of sports had gone out of their way to steal the spotlight for themselves – which includes athletics, swimming and table tennis.

The final confirmation unveiled that 10 of the 12 team members were not disabled, with the president of the Spanish Paralympic Committee accepting total responsibility after previously denying the allegations. So essentially – he’s one of the most detestable human beings you’re ever likely to meet.

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It’s all well and good dismissing them as bad people and having that be the end of it, but this gets worse and worse the more you start to let your mind wonder. These men, if you can even promote them to that status, decided to take the opportunity of a lifetime away from people who fought tooth and nail to make something of themselves.

The Paralympics exist to give those less fortunate than us the chance to shine on the world stage, and it makes it all the more infuriating when you consider the motto of the 2000 games in Sydney – Performance, Power and Pride.

Three P’s, and the Spanish team fail on all counts.

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