Each day of the 2008 Olympics we're going to find a bizarre clip or story from a past Summer Olympics. Today we'll look at the Spanish Paralympic Basketball Team.
While not technically part of the Olympics, this particular team has to squeeze in here somewhere. We have no plans to do a 'Bizarre Paraympics Moments' segment anytime soon and this story was just too crazy to pass up.
A Spanish writer, Carlos Ribagorda, reported that 10 of the 12 members of the team were not intellectually disabled. In an interesting twist to the story Ribagorda was actually one of the 10 members - so he had the real inside scoop. Ribagorda isn't intellectually disabled but his suspect means of getting the story don't indicate a high level of intelligence. Apparently, when officials approached him to play for the team in Sydney he accepted their offer with the intent of breaking the story later ... after he got his free trip to Australia.
Rules state that to be intellectually disabled a player must have an IQ of 70 or lower (good thing they don't test the major leaguers). According to Ribagorda, none of the athletes were tested to see if they met these standards. The 10 players without disabilities included a lawyer, an engineer and some University students ... I guess they didn't test players ethics either. He also reported that some Spanish athletes participating in other events were without disability as well.
The Basketball team did SO well that a photo of them ended up on the front page of a daily Spainish newspaper. Some of the players were recognized and the plan started to unravel. Ribagorda's article came out and the gig was up, resulting in senior officials retiring in disgrace.
The International Paralympic Committee eventually scrapped the 'athletes with an intellectual disability' category, deciding that determining athlete eligibility was too difficult ... which is incredibly sad for society.
Way to lower the bar Spain!
(Information from CNNSI and BBC)
Take a look at the 16 most bizarre Olympic moments in history:
Day 1 - Eric "The Eel" Moussambani
Day 2 - Betty Robinson
Day 3 - Sally Robbins
Day 4 - Abebe Bilkila
Day 5 - 1972 USA Basketball team
Day 6 - Bobby Pearce
Day 7 - Byun Jong-il
Day 8 - Stella Walsh
Day 9 - Spanish Paralympic Basketball Team
Day 10 - Ingeborg Marx
Day 11 - Vanderlei de Lima
Day 12 - Hans-Jurgen Todt
Day 13 - Liu Changchun
Day 14 - Dorando Pietri
Day 15 - 1956 Hungarian Water Polo Team
Day 16 - 1960 Tunisian Modern Pentathlon Team