Esporte Andre Brasil and CPB Lose Lawsuit Against IPC After Reclassification

Esporte Andre Brasil and CPB Lose Lawsuit Against IPC After Reclassification

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On April 6th, Andre Brasil and the Brazilian Paralympic Committee (CPB) announced that the Cologne Regional Court has ruled in favor of the International Paralympic Committee’s decision to reclassify Brasil as ineligible. This effectively ends Brasil’s 14-year-long Paralympic career.

“We call this change in ranking one of the saddest episodes in the history of global paralympics,” the CPB wrote in their official statement.

“The CPB considers that the change in the classification process, implemented in mid-2018 by the IPC, of which Andre Brasil was one of the victims, was not followed by science or research…

“In addition to bringing imbalance, it changed the order of the Paralympic classes, occurred mid-cycle, already half of the preparation for the Tokyo Games underway, it has affected the system brutally.”

We covered Brasil’s case against his reclassification in-depth back in February when Brasil and the CPB filed the lawsuit against the International Paralympic Committee. You can read about it in full here.

Some of the main arguments of Brasil’s case were that his classification process was allegedly flawed, the basis of the classification was invalid, and the IPC did not take into account an independent scientific study Brasil provided of him and his impairment

Brasil’s lawyer, German sports lawyer Alexander Engelhard, told SwimSwam that Brasil missed the eligibility range by 1 point during the mandatory Paralympic reclassifications in 2019.

“There is a scale from zero to 300 points. To be classified in S10, an athlete has to reach between 266-285 points. Andre had 286,” Engelhard explained. S10 is the Paralympic class that includes athletes with the least severe physical impairments. Therefore Brasil being deemed ineligible as an S10 effectively ended his para swimming career in butterfly, backstroke, and freestyle.

We reached out to Brasil last week for comment but he did not respond. He did upload a 2-minute long video to Instagram on April 9th, though, titled “Fora dos Jogos” or “Out of the Games.” In the video, he is sitting in front of a display of his Paralympic medals and awards he has earned throughout his career. “They killed my dreams,” he said.

“There are many questions that stop [on my mind] and I’m still thinking: “what sport is this, man, that excludes a person who – notoriously – has a disability? Who lived for almost fifteen years in this movement and who suddenly cannot more?” What did I do wrong? Because that will not change! This is forever – he told Global Esporte on Saturday, pointing to his left leg.

“- I thought I could have my son a little older to see everything Dad did. Today, at the age of eight, he would have an understanding of things. He will only be able to see it on the internet. I think that would be the culmination for me,” said 36-year-old Brasil.

“It’s not goodbye and at some point I’ll be back.”

He told Globo Esporte that he does not feel the same about his 14 Paralympic medals, that he gave away two and has kept 12, but he will no longer wear them around his neck.

World Para Swimming declined to comment until the case was officially closed, awaiting any appeals, and they sent out a statement via email on Friday which refutes Brasil’s claims that his two reclassification assessments were not done independently, and that a chief classifier participated in both assessments.

“The Regional Court of Cologne dismissed the claimants’ claims in their entirety. The Court found that both the introduction of the rules, and the classification decision itself, were lawful and were carried out in accordance with the relevant rules and procedures and were not wrong in fact or disproportionate…

“In the case of Andre Brasil, the athlete’s NE decision was confirmed by two independent classification panels and separately by the independent Board of Appeal of Classification, before the decision of the German court.”

They also deny allegations of failing to properly inform national Paralympic Committees about the 2018 rule change, while providing a rationale for the change and allowing time for them to submit feedback. The 2018 rule change is what mandated that athletes get reclassifications in 2019, potentially due to cases of intentional misrepresentation at the time.

“The process for making the changes to the rules commenced in 2015. As part of this process, National Paralympic Committees (NPCs) were consulted about the proposed changes, including the changes to the technical assessment (water test).”

Initially, a decision was expected by March 2nd. It is not clear whether the month-long delay was due to any back-and-forth in the courtroom or just delays in logistical judicial procedures.

Brasil suffered polio as a child which caused one of his legs to be five inches shorter than the other and he has no feeling, strength, or balance in his left leg, according to Brazilian site Globo Esporte. 

He competed as an S10 athlete for 14 years, earning 14 Paralympic medals across the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Paralympic Games. Half of those medals were gold.

Brasil still holds S10 World Paralympic Records in the 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 200 freestyle and 50 backstroke.

Full Brazilian Paralympic Committee Statement [translated]:

The CPB considers that the change in the classification process, implemented in mid-2018 by the IPC, of which Andre Brasil was one of the victims, was not followed by science or research that could portray the equity of Paralympic sport. In addition to bringing imbalance, it changed the order of the Paralympic classes, occurred mid-cycle, with already half of the preparation for the Tokyo Games underway, it has affected the system brutally.

The damage this untimely process has caused is undeniable.

 Andre Brasil competed for 14 years, won 14 Paralympic medals, participated in three editions of the Paralympic Games, and still holds four S10 World Records. Andre’s disability is not progressive, it only limits the movements even more, so how then does this justify everything he’s accomplished? 

We call this change in ranking one of the saddest episodes in the history of global paralympics. The fact that Andre Brasil has not had a new opportunity to qualify increases our sadness and leaves doubt if the priority of sport is athletes.

Mizael Conrado

President of the Brazilian Paralympic Committee

Full World Para Swimming Statement:

As you are aware, NPC Brazil and Andre Brasil brought legal proceedings in the German courts in relation to the athlete’s classification as non-eligible (NE) in 2019, and World Para Swimming’s introduction of its 2018 Classification Rules and Regulations on which that assessment was based.

The Regional Court of Cologne dismissed the claimants’ claims in their entirety. The Court found that both the introduction of the rules, and the classification decision itself, were lawful and were carried out in accordance with the relevant rules and procedures and were not wrong in fact or disproportionate.

The process for making the changes to the rules commenced in 2015. As part of this process, National Paralympic Committees (NPCs) were consulted about the proposed changes, including the changes to the technical assessment (water test).

In the case of Andre Brasil, the athlete’s NE decision was confirmed by two independent classification panels and separately by the independent Board of Appeal of Classification, before the decision of the German court.

As with the development of all sport assessment systems, research, evidence, technology and the views of the Para sport movement continue to improve our assessment processes over time.

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