Chinese Paralympic Team Responds to “Smarting” Accusations
Published July 29, 2012
Updated August 1, 2012
By TERRI MORONE
LONDON, ENGLAND – Off to one side of the pool at London's Olympic Aquatics Centre, Ge Ginlyi of China’s 2012 Paralympic Team swam her morning workout on Sunday, 31 days before she will compete in the Summer Paralympics as the world’s fastest Paralympic sprinter – and one of the most mysterious.
Ge, 21, and her teammates remain a symbol of the West’s suspicion about so-called “smarting” among Chinese Paralympic athletes. Smarting has become the Paralympic counterpart to performance enhancing doping among non-challenged Olympic athletes. The most common form of smarting is for an athlete of normal mental abilities to fake mental challenges – by feigning slurred speech and otherwise – to gain eligibility for Paralympic competition.
On Friday, Depp Blatter, a member of the International Paralympic Committee sounded alarms when he spotted Ge and four teammates at a London discotheque the night before the Olympic opening ceremonies. “I said, ‘Girls, what are you doing here? You are supposed to be retarded!’” said Blatter. “This makes me question whether these girls are true Paralympians.” Blatter said that the women pretended not to understand English, but they were speaking with European men when he approached.
“The athletes don’t speak before big competitions,” Zhou Ming, deputy coach of the Chinese Paralympic swim team, said of the 5-foot-10-inch, 140-pound Ge and her teammates. In a rare retort by a Chinese Paralympic official, Ming pointed out that Angela Martinez of the United States successfully failed her aptitude test to qualify in 2004 but two years later passed the real estate agent license exam and now sells real estate in Manhattan Beach, Califiornia.
I said, ‘Girls, what are you doing here? You are supposed to be retarded!’
Indeed, Ge and all of her teammates successfully failed the required intelligent quotient tests. It is often difficult, however, to make sure that an athlete is trying during the test. “The IPC [International Paralympic Committee] has discussed using interviews and random surveillance to detect smarting,” said Paralympics commentator Brent Roberts. “In a closed society like China, this is not an easy task.”
The suspicion looming around the Chinese Paralympians only elevates the controversy surrounding Ye Shiwen's incredible performances in the Olympic swim competition.
The Paralympics began in 1948 as a means of friendly competition among injured British WWII veterans. In the last eight years, however, it has meant multi-million dollar endorsements for its medal winners. Also, countries like China have shown willingness to circumvent the rules for medal glory.