14-Time Paralympic Medalist André Brasil Classified as Ineligible

Three-time Paralympian and seven-time gold medalist André Brazil has been classified as ineligible to compete in Paralympic swimming, Brazilian site Globo Esporte reported Wednesday.

Brasil spent the last 14 years classified as an S10. He had polio as a child, and as a result, one of his legs is five centimeters shorter than the other. He also has no feeling, strength, or balance in the left leg, and despite seven surgeries as a child, it could not be remedied, according to Globo Esporte.

He underwent mandatory reclassification ahead of this week’s Para Swimming World Series stop in Sao Paulo, and it was decided his impairment was not severe enough to classify him for para swimming. Brasil was attempting to make his return to competition after undergoing shoulder surgery last year. All para-swimmers were required to undergo reclassification in 2018 after World Para Swimming reworked the classification process.

Since the new program took effect, a number of controversial classifications have been made. Most prominently, 2012 and 2016 Paralympic gold medalist Ollie Hynd went from S8, to S9, to S8 and then back to S9 again.

“Indignation, revolt, sadness … a story erased in a day … we are treated as numbers of points in the classification and not as human beings,” Brasil wrote on Twitter.

The Brazilian Paralympic Committee tweeted a statement in his support:

“The CPB stands with Andre Brasil and shares his frustration at being classified as ineligible. We do not believe that his 14 years in the Paralympic Movement were a lie,” they wrote, translated from Portuguese. “We understand that he has been subjected to great injustice and will support him to restore equality and justice.”

At least one of Brasil’s Paralympic colleagues shared the sentiment of frustration. The athlete, a Paralympic medalist who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said “Again, it is this water test. It punishes those who have good technique and rewards those who have bade technique on purpose.

“There are no checks and balances in the system.”

Brasil competed in the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Paralympics, and is the current world record holder in the S10 50 free, 100 free, and 200 free.

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Ian Silverman
3 years ago

IPC continues to prove they have no idea what they are doing. Is the past 14 years now discredited? You can’t write Paralympic swimming’s history without Andre. Reclassifying everyone on an even playing field is a must before 2020, but obviously these classifiers are beyond incompetent in their work, and not actually professionals in any sense of the term. Why punish an athlete who has trained for years to overcome the obstacles that they face on land? Do the Paralympics not want to reward people finding ways to overcome their differences? Andre was one of the good ones, it was always an honor and privelage to race alongside him.

Disheartened
Reply to  Ian Silverman
3 years ago

Well said Ian. Classification needs to be taken out of the hands of the IPC and their totally incompetent quasi medical classifiers taken out of the picture altogether, to be replaced by qualified, registered, competent and experienced specialists who are not volunteers after a free international holiday. Those who are faking or exaggerating a disability would then not even progress to the meaningless and totally unscientific “water test”, again conducted by individuals who mostly have no understanding whatsoever of the disability presented to them. As it stands, the standards of diagnostics practiced in classification are positively mediaeval and it beggars belief that this is allowed to continue in the 21st century given the advances in modern medicine in the real… Read more »

forgotmyname
Reply to  Ian Silverman
3 years ago

Pity the Ukrainians didn’t come to this meet to be classified.
If Andre and Ian don’t show enough disability to be classified S10, it beggars belief about the current eligible status of the UKR S10 men.

Worried Para Mum USA
3 years ago

Don’t suppose anyone has seen the new British swimmer !!! Was a 7 this morning in heat swim went 1.26
Moved to an 8 this evening now swimming 1.18

Think someone needs to ruled out for cheating
What is going on with this sport !!!

Worried Para Mum USA
Reply to  Worried Para Mum USA
3 years ago

May I add it a was world record in the 7 class

Lee Hockings
Reply to  Worried Para Mum USA
3 years ago

No it wasn’t. she is classified as an S8 and was being observed in competition. so no world record. if she had stayed as a SB7 and confirmed, then yes would have been a world record.

Sara
Reply to  Worried Para Mum USA
3 years ago

USA mum are you referring to the one who originally started the classification session as a10, went to a 7 then an S8 SB7 and after her 100m breast heat broke the world record and then went up to an 8 for the final? Something is oddly wrong there. Maybe world para swimming should place numbers in a hat and draw one out and give her that classification. Obviously the classifiers can’t do the job right

Worried Para Mum USA
Reply to  Sara
3 years ago

Yes it’s a little embarrassing for the Brits right !! I was under the impression if there was that level of discrepancy they should be ruled out !! And it’s quite clear there is a huge amount of cheating going on there time time swam to win the works record as a 7 then then time they went to swim close to the 8 world record in the evening

Red face for the Brits surely although cheating seems to be there thing these days

NickW
Reply to  Worried Para Mum USA
3 years ago

Her entry time of 1:16.02 prior to classification is under SB8 WR standard. Her spilts in both heats & finals was 36low & she’s not the only one who should be on someone’s radar this week. An S5 swimmer swam one race (100free) post classification some 13s or so over her PB and then called it a day, as she’s done on prior occasions. Total chaos and complete disregard for the sport, it’s rules and other competitors so yes, it’s embarrassing.

Worried Para Mum USA
Reply to  Sara
3 years ago

It really does seem to be the luck of the draw it will be a lucky dip soon

Sara
Reply to  Worried Para Mum USA
3 years ago

Yea it will be based on how much money you are willing to spend to buy your classification. Alice Tai is another. Started as an S10 a few years back, now competing as an 8 with no obvious change in her disability and totally obliterating the world records.

NickW
Reply to  Sara
3 years ago

Alice Tai got the sharp end of the stick with her S10 classification. Her move to S9 was definitely a positive one. Her S8 classification? If it is considered wrong, is it really any more wrong than the Australian ‘S8 sisters’ pair? They also set multiple WRs that still stand even although they have both been classed up post Rio, one before the new Technical test. New 50m free S8 WR to Tai today btw.

Lee Hockings
Reply to  Worried Para Mum USA
3 years ago

Shock horror, a swimmer went faster in the final than the heat…. classification is not done on time but the physical disability for S1 to S10. Also not uncommon when an athlete is being seen by classification to go up a class when being observed in competition.

NickW
Reply to  Lee Hockings
3 years ago

Shock horror – one swimmer who is currently ranked No1 in her S5 class swam some 12s+ over her pb in the heat and called it a day – after stating on social media that she was determined to make her 3rd Worlds Team. Team1, S10 Medalist. Team2, S9 multiple medalist. Team3 – S5 & didn’t even need to try, selected on at the ‘discretion’ of the ‘Performance’ Director. Oh the irony! Wake up Lee.

Rudy Garcia-Tolson
3 years ago

Where is Ann Green when you need her..

When Andre first hit the Paralympics circuit, I wondered about his disability.

But after seeing Andre consistently for many years, I grew a sense of respect for the man who made Paralympics a thing in Brazil. He has done more for Paralympic sport than IPC can ever do. Just another slap in the athletes faces.

NOTHING will change unless the athletes stand up and demand it. Take back your sport athletes!

Cheers Andre

P. S enough with the blame game.

Bobc
Reply to  Rudy Garcia-Tolson
3 years ago

I too would like to see someone charged with care taking of the sport. That’s not likely to happen anytime soon.

On the matter of Andre specifically though – he, and many other athletes with impairments like his, have been very successful as S10s in the last 2 decades. The January 2018 classification manual doesn’t change that. It does, however, change the boundaries between sport classes.

If you look at the technical scoring procedure in the manual I think you will agree that it will be very difficult for an athlete with a strength or range impairment in a single joint to qualify again. Unless that one joint happens to be a hip or a shoulder. The 1/2 hand amputees… Read more »

NickW
Reply to  Bobc
3 years ago

In other words, the ‘functional’ classification system favours the amputee classes, disadvantages the non amputee classes and is a get out of jail free card for those with perfectly functional limbs intent on cheating.
Do you even test the vision impaired functionally? I bet you don’t yet you’ve introduced relays for Tokyo2020. Chaos.

Bobc
Reply to  NickW
3 years ago

There is only one classification system for para-sport and it isn’t swimming specific. This might change in the future but that is the way it has been for the entirety of the Paralympic movement.

NickW
Reply to  Bobc
3 years ago

Let’s not quibble over semantics BobC. There is one classification code. ‘Each IF shall have its own Classification Rules that must comply with the Code. The Code is intended to be specific enough to achieve harmonisation on classification issues where standardisation is required, yet general enough in other areas to permit flexibility on how agreed principles are implemented.’
Swimming is described as a ‘functional’ classification system. Yet, not every amputee has undergone compulsory reclassification and there are no functional measures in place for VI that I am aware of – they can either read what’s in front of them or not with no consideration regarding impact on functionality for the sport of swimming. Further, every other sport that VI… Read more »

Nikki
3 years ago

Everything else aside, the classification system will destroy paraswimming if athletes continue to be classed out or penalized for maximizing their strengths in the water. The curse of the honest athlete in the water test has been around since before this required reclassification.

NickW
Reply to  Nikki
3 years ago

Fair point but it didn’t penalise Pascoe, or Leslie or Kelly, and that is what makes the decision against Brasil, a non amputee, so perplexing and disappointing. I don’t know what the answer is but the ‘new’ technical test certainly isn’t it as it classed Brasil Not Eligible but retained those who deliberately cheat. I would think it very easy to cheat the medical proponent with the ‘right’ documentation and then swim accordingly during the technical testing.

Worried Para Mum USA
3 years ago

Isn’t it funny how other countries seem to be getting a real rough ride with the new classification system yet the British team seem to be having a ball.
One athlete started as a 10 and now A 5 surely if they are that unstable they should not be classified and a 10 is now a 7 and it goes on !!!!

Admin
Reply to  Worried Para Mum USA
3 years ago

The Brits have had their fair share of hits too. Ollie Hynd and Stephanie Millward have both been classed down at different points.

Worried Para Mum USA
Reply to  Braden Keith
3 years ago

Disagree think those brits are now finally in the correct classes

Admin
Reply to  Worried Para Mum USA
3 years ago

Ok but that wasn’t the stated point of your original comment.

Sara
Reply to  Braden Keith
3 years ago

Yes but Millward should not have been classed down. Everyone knows that. Same as Tai.

NickW
Reply to  Worried Para Mum USA
3 years ago

Notable ‘non amputee’ UK swimmers switching classes other than Hynd & Millward;
Jonathan Fox moved up from S7 to S8
Jacob Leach moved up from S8 to S9
Matt Wylie moved up from S9 to S10

It would appear then that there are no checks and balances in place. No one appears willing to explain this significant shift within the ‘non amputee’ impairment groups, which is at odds with the minimal movement within the ‘amputee group’ in the opposite direction (NZLs Pascoe & Leslie and AUS Kelly moved down). Lastly, those within the ‘non amputee’ group who are intent on cheating the classification system appear to still do so with relative ease. It is a distinct possibility… Read more »

Taa
3 years ago

In paraswimming thats what happens when you swims so fast.

NickW
Reply to  Taa
3 years ago

I disagree TAA. This only appears to apply if you have a disability that the classifiers struggle to classify. Sophie Pascoe, an S10 swimmer for over a decade and still performing at personal best level (NZL Pascoe is a below knee amputee plus affected lower leg muscle on her other leg) was recently reclassified from S10 to S9 in Australia, immediately setting multiple S9 WRs. Hynd, Brasil, Fox, Wyllie … yet still cheating (a now infamous Australian Para Swimmer immediately comes to mind) is rife and is seemingly impossible for them to detect, identify and address. Para Swimming remains in chaos, with or without ‘revamped’ technical testing. Very sad for athletes, sponsors and fans alike.

Sara
Reply to  NickW
3 years ago

Which Australian swimmer are you referring to NikW? They seem to be accumulating a few more following their recent team announcement a few weeks back.

NickW
Reply to  Sara
3 years ago

To whom are you referring Sara?
The point that I am trying to articulate is that Pascoe was classed down after a decade plus of swimming at the top of the Women S10 class. In contrast, Brasil has been classed out after a decade plus at the top of the Men’s S10 class. These two S10 swimmers were considered closest to ‘Olympians’, according to the IPCs classification system. In the interest of open discussion, if Pascoe has been classed down because the muscle damage to her remaining leg wasn’t considered relevant at her original classification by Anne Green (read Pascoe’s book and note her take on the make up of the S10 M & W classes) then it makes… Read more »

Maree
Reply to  Sara
3 years ago

Sara, maybe need to look at
Those who just received scholarships.

Swim Hard
Reply to  Maree
3 years ago

Couldn’t agree more! Such a shame a great initiative is tainted from the start.

Taa
Reply to  NickW
3 years ago

Yes it’s mostly the athletes with all their limbs that have this problem. Tai seems to be the exception on this

honestly
3 years ago

This is actually really funny

Observer
Reply to  honestly
3 years ago

You’re a really messed up person

13 % Chinese person
3 years ago

So Andre was born in 1984 . Brazil had polio in the late 80s when the Sabin oral preventative doses were available in the 1960s. ?

John
Reply to  13 % Chinese person
3 years ago

Considering the uprise of anti-vaxxers lately and the fact that Measles is seeing a rise in outbreaks in first world countries (!!!) Not unreasonable polio exists in a second-world country like Brazil back then (or now)

13 % Chinese person
Reply to  John
3 years ago

He must have been extremely unlucky as Sth America has had no wild polio since 1988. Wild as in just springing up . There is also post polio syndrome & although he cannot race , I hope he keeps swimming . There is more to it than medals .

Its not just the anti vaccers we need to worry about but also the politicisation of these contagious dideases. Some we ignore because they are our friends eg measles in Ukraine now spreading to NY & others are embargoed incl vaccines hoping to destabilise. It will all come back to us .

Dee
Reply to  13 % Chinese person
3 years ago

Brazil had low coverage vaccination warnings just last year.

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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