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.”
O CPB está ao lado de Andre Brasil e compartilha sua frustração ao ser classificado como inelegível. Não cremos que seus 14 anos no Movimento Paralímpico foram uma mentira. Entendemos que foi submetido a uma grande injustiça e o apoiaremos para restaurar a igualdade e a justiça. https://t.co/7Q77T4OKRA
— CPB 🇧🇷 (@cpboficial) April 24, 2019
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.