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Victoria Arlen, a Paralyzed U.S. Swimmer, is Banned from Paralympic World Championships

Posted on the 16 August 2013 by Real Talk @talkrealdebate2012

Victoria Arlen after realizing she won a gold medalVictoria Arlen was banned from the Paralympics in Montreal because the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) deemed her “not paralyzed” enough.  The ruling came days before the 18-year-old was set to compete in this year’s World Championships.  The four-time medalist at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London was shocked at the ruling. 

Arlen slipped into a coma at the age of 11 and awoke three years later to find that she was paralyzed from the waist down.  She had an autoimmune disorder that attacks nerves in the spine.  She has since been wheel-chair bound.

The IPC disqualified her on the basis that her condition was not permanent.  The ruling stemmed from a recent medical report submitted to the committee in which a doctor suggested that, with years of physical therapy, Arlen might be able to walk again.  Despite acknowledging to ABCNews.com that the timing was “not ideal,” they ultimately stand by the decision.  Arlen wrote on her website: “I’m so heartbroken with what has happened…I feel numb and completely shocked with the turn of events.” 

I think this ruling is in error.  Despite what this doctor hypothesizes could potentially happen, it does not deter from the fact that Arlen in fact cannot in the present time use her legs.  She does not have an advantage amongst her competition because like them she has some type of impairment.  I’m not sure how you can say she isn’t “paralyzed enough” if she hasn’t been able to walk in 7 years!

Victoria Arlen at the ESPYS

It’s not like she became paralyzed this year and has already regained some movement in her legs.  This ruling is based on a HYPOTHESIS that this athlete may IN THE FUTURE be able to walk after YEARS OF THERAPY.  My hypothesis is that the U.S. athlete poses too much of a threat and some of these members from other countries are extremely competitive.  There is no other plausible explanation.

I think Arlen should be quickly reinstated and given an apology.  I’m sure she would give all her medals in return for the return of her mobility.  Unfortunately, at the moment, that is not the case.  And as these events are occurring this week, the qualifications should be based on her current condition.  She currently cannot move her legs.  Therefore, she should be able to compete.

What do you think?

Email: realtalkdebate2012@gmail.com

Twitter: @adrakontaidis & @talkrealdebate


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