14-Time Gold Medalist Popovich Named to IPC Classification Committee

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has named 14-time Paralympic Champion Erin Popovich as the athlete representative to the IPC Classification Committee until November of 2017.

Popovich, one of the most decorated Paralympians in history, having won 14 gold medals across the 2000, 2004, and 2008 Paralympic Games. She also won an ESPY Award, ESPN’s annual awards show, for best Female Athlete with a Disability in 2005 – the first time that award was given; was named the Women’s Sports Foundation Sportswoman of the year; and in 2009 won a 2nd ESPY. She announced her retirement from competitive swimming in 2010 at just 25-years old.

Only 11 athletes in history have won more Paralympic gold medals than Popovich in a single sport (it’s not uncommon for Paralympians to compete in multiple sports), including just 5 other swimmers and 1 other American (Trischa Zorn).

After her retirement, she joined the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) as the classification and emerging sports program administrator.

According to the IPC, “The Committee is comprised of six members, including the Chairperson and five members at large. Its function is to create strategic recommendations (global, long-term) related to the on-going evaluation and further development of classification systems of all sports in the Paralympic Movement.”

The committee, while it has no formal decision-making authority, as a group makes recommendations to the IPC regarding the classification systems across all sports.

Classification is always a popular topic within the Paralympic movement, but have become especially a hot-button issue since the 2012 Paralympics, where a run of classifications and suspicious results have led to a general distrust of the classification process. Late last year, the IPC changed their classification rules and procedures, and earlier this year announced that they were going to again review para-swimming classifications.


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Swim fan
6 years ago

Surely until the classifiers are strong enough to revisit athletes whose times have stagnated and who then produce huge PB’s immediately after having their classification moved down and confirmed (something I have witnessed regularly over the past 10 years watching Paralympic swimming not just Maddison Elliott) athletes will continue to abuse the system. While we all accept there will always be borderline cases Classifiers should be looking at competition results post reclassification, not just immediately after but over a period of time. As for growth conditions IPC seem happy to ignore the fact that those with growth conditions that are not achondroplasia, but have conditions that result in longer limbs will always have an advantage as S6 swimmer. Surely young… Read more »

6 years ago

Good questions to ask now I reckon:

Why exactly were Arlen, Zook and Weggemann all targeted by the IPC in 2012?

Which countries benefitted from the reclassifications:

S6 Great Britain -,Simmonds has had no competition since Arlens ban, she does now in Aus Tiffany Kane whom it’s believed is wrongly classed ie too tall for S6 yet the IPC are ignoring this – a simple task of measurement against a flat wall unlike Arlens complex case.

S9 Australia – Cowdrey had a very successful Games, his last it now seems.

S7 Australia – Freney had 8 golds from 8 events, some races ridiculously well in front of her nearest competitor, very similar to GBs Kearney at IPC World… Read more »

6 years ago

Congratulations to Popovich of course. I hope however this isn’t merely a token gesture by the IPC executive to make all seem good on paper and in the media. Is Popovichs’ voice going to be heard on that committee given the personalities involved? I would think not. A clean sweep was required to regain trust as it is no longer clear where the problem or problems lie – athletes, classifiers, researchers or IPC staff? I suspect all of the former.

This is too little and far too late. The distrust in not only the system but in the swimmers themselves has played out vividly in the media since July 2015 when Australias’ Maddison Elliott swam almost 8 seconds slower… Read more »

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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