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President’s blog: Classification! IBSA’s “Achilles Heel”?

Date: July 30, 2023

Category: General

Yesterday I met with IBSA’s classification leadership team. It will be no surprise that classification – its processes, its administration and the quality of our classifiers – is one of our most fundamental subjects requiring review and reform…..and investment. The integrity of every aspect of this area is IBSA’s ‘Achilles heel’. The confidence of our athletes and others in IBSA’s classification is our only guarantee for continued participation in the Paralympic Games and the key to attracting new sponsors and partners.

There are still those, even in our own family who naively believe that all is ‘okay’ and that any admittance to the contrary is counter productive. They are wrong! Classification is not some incidental game where if the cheats win it does not matter. Of all the reforms I have in mind classification review is one of those with the highest priority.

Our agenda on Friday was extensive but let me mention my top three which I believe might be shared by Jose, Ludwig, Rokiah and Helder.

As with my intent for the Executive leadership we need to separate those who design the classification processes, approve the standards of the systems and classifier practice (governance) and those classifiers and other aspects of administration who implement the systems at events (management).

In this way we will reduce the chances of conflict of interest. We want to encourage even more that when we appoint classifiers to events internationally they leave their national identities and affiliations at home and are 100% IBSA.

A further ambition has to be that within IBSA’s future professional administration that specific support is established for the work of our classification team at all levels, our professional volunteers without whom there is no IBSA.

In other Paralympic sports, classification has become a quite fundamental aspect within each sport with its own dedicated classifiers. In wheelchair sports for example the day of the generalist across multiple sports at international level disappeared decades ago with the move to sport specific and functional classification. I would like to see an open and IBSA wide discussion on this possibility for our sports.

In the past progress has been inhibited by those who never allow our dreams of ‘the possible’ for IBSA by thecost argument. Let’s put that point to one side for now. It is my responsibility and that of the newly Elected Board to secure the finances to take IBSA to the next level in these important areas. I have every confidence that over time we will find the funds to invest in classification and other important developments.

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