The Greatest Paralympic Scandal of All Time

So it's the 2000 Summer Paralympics in Sydney.

We're in the final moments of the men's intellectual disability basketball finals and Spain is up by 24.

They've been killing it all week,

and they're about to finish off Russia and jump to third in the medal table behind the United States and Britain.

The entire country is,

needless to say, thrilled. And why wouldn't they be?

Unlike the cutthroat Olympics, the Paralympic Games are probably the most beloved sporting event in the whole world.

It's a celebration of triumph over hardship, the wonder of the human spirit.

It's one of the few times where athletes are all pulling for each other and there are no real losers.

But, winning is just a bit sweeter, and

Spain's making it look easy on the hardwood. The last few seconds tick away and the team comes out on top.

Journalists are writing copies about all the

adversity these twelve young men have overcome to climb atop the podium and receive their much deserved gold medals.

They're soon to be national treasures, a testament to guts, grit, courage, and hard work.

If they could accomplish their dreams,

What's stopping you? And as the national anthem plays and the crowd applauds, the moment seems picture-perfect?

But little did the world know....

It was a lie.

All of it was a lie.

Doping remains a notorious issue for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games, but especially for the latter.

It's easy to see why.

Due to the very nature of the event many of the participants are on performance-enhancing drugs to treat

physical disabilities. So policing drug abuse during the games has always been a challenge.

A common form of doping is boosting, by which athletes with a spinal cord injury induce

Autonomic Dysreflexia, and spike their blood pressure for increased performance.

This practice was banned by the International Paralympic Committee in 1994,

but it's still an ongoing problem in the sport.

To combat the issue in 2000, the Sydney Games established a doping control program and for the first time,

Paralympic athletes were asked to participate in out-of-competition drug testing.

This was a good step to take, it meant that the testing window is much wider and any competitor could be called for a

test at any point throughout the games.

And it worked!

14 athletes tested positive, it practically saved the powerlifting competition from becoming a total farce.

But suppose a potential cheater was operating with a different premise.

See if the doping control program was designed to police participants from using drugs to gain an unfair physical advantage.

But what if an athlete desired instead to be disadvantaged?

What if say a non-disabled person

pretended to be disabled to compete. How would you police that?

But, I mean, come on. Why would you need to police that, who would be so morally repugnant to try it?

This is Fernando Martinez Vicente. At the time of the Sydney games,

he was the president of the Spanish Federation of Sports People with Intellectual Disabilities,

and by the time our story concludes,

he will be found guilty of fraud and forgery.

Here's a recent photo of him shaking hands with the Pope.

I'm not gonna act like I know this man's character,

it's been almost two decades since the event we're talking about, and a lot can change in that time.

I do know that when you're the head of an organization like FEDDI,

there's constant pressure to get a hold of government grants.

It's a surefire way to keep the lights on and often the only option to accomplish your institutions agenda.

But grants don't come easy.

There's a lot of organizations seeking them and only so much money to go around. So priority goes to

associations that have a track record of success and at that point the only thing on your mind is win medals.

Because the more medals you win, the more incentive the government has to extend grant money in your direction.

So why not,

just for one year enter a team that's almost guaranteed to win.

Yeah, but... how do you do that?

Well, what if your team wasn't actually disabled.

How much easier could it be to come in first and again,

you're only doing it the one time.

just win a gold medal and the incentives for grants is guaranteed.

Your organization will stay afloat for the foreseeable future,

you'll employ plenty of people, and in doing so, your

association can continue to assist those who are mentally

disabled for maybe decades to come.

It's a classic case of trying to justify shady behavior in the name of the greater good.

So FEDDI set out to build a super team.... and build it they did.

All that was necessary was to recruit some fairly competitive

basketball players who were willing to keep their mouths shut about the scam and things were set.

I mean they really only needed to hire,

like, two or three players tops to pull something like this off, right?

I guess five if you wanted to stack your side of the court during play, but Spain took it even further.

They recruited ten.


Ten players out of the 12-man roster were not actually disabled.

If you're like me, the only thing on your mind is how?

How did they pull this off, how did nobody notice this?

It's a fair question to ask.

See in order to qualify as a participant in the Intellectual

Disability Basketball Event,

a prospective player is required to complete a litany of mental tests to determine their eligibility.

the competitor must be determined to have an IQ of no more than 75, so these ten guys had to purposely fail a series of

Intelligence tests and make it look authentic.

Naturally, I decided to test this myself.

What if I was one of the ten, could I fake my way through an IQ test into the category of mental disability?

I mean how hard could it be? But there was a challenge

I mean, I needed to score low enough to qualify for the event but also high enough so as to not attract any suspicion from

hypothetical outside auditors

I figured 55 was a good target to aim for. So a bit about the IQ test

It measures several factors of intelligence like logical reasoning, math skills, language abilities, spatial relations skills, knowledge

Retained, and the ability to solve novel problems. Though it's always had some controversy associated with it. It's still fairly

Good way of judging a person's level of intelligence. IQ is also fluid it changes with age and in that respect

I was a little nervous

I mean, I hadn't taken a math test in almost a decade

But I'm trying to fail right? So, no worries

The challenge wasn't gonna be so much scoring under 75 but scoring over 55

It is

Incredibly hard to judge that kind of thing you go into the test blind and there's no real way of gauging your progress as you

Take it so I think that trick to this is like gonna be to answer in a way

That's close to right but not quite correct

Does that make sense to women start at the same point?

They walk into opposite directions for three meters then turn right and walk another four meters. How far apart are they?

Some Gumble Stein's ARPA janitors and Alton janitors our herbal sins are some cobble Stein's definitely Kerbal since

It's too early for this okay

Add the even numbers in this list 2 4 6 11 18 37 38 is the sum an even number or an odd number?


After about 40 minutes of deliberation your boy walked away with an IQ score of 25

I'd have undershot that a bit so pure

I guess technically I wouldn't have had any problems qualifying

But I don't know if such a score would have a laid suspicion either another point

I should probably make note of here in the research for this video

I read

Conflicting reports as to how expensive the testing was for each player on Spain's team some claim to have never been tested at all

Some alleged that they purposely scored low on tests issued and other reports

I read stated that all medical forms were forged from an outside source and delivered to officials without any players being made aware at all

But whichever way you take at the end result was the same they all managed to slip in with no issues not every crazy story

needs crazy twists

And this one's got a doozy if this whole thing was a Hollywood movie the main character would undoubtedly be this guy

Carlos at rib Agora

C-man was one of the ten recruited players that was in on the scam and during the games he helped propel Spain to victory but

a few weeks after the closing ceremony he sent his medal back to Paralympic headquarters as well as his team kit and the

150 pounds that each Spanish athlete was given for the Sydney trip was it a sudden change of heart had his conscience

Finally gotten the best of him don't count on it the truth Carlos riba Gorda was an undercover investigative journalist

And he was blowing the whistle on the whole operation so details are a little fuzzy about all of this

But here's what we do know after two years of work to

Successfully infiltrate the ring, C-man was called up five months before the Sydney games and asked to participate

There were five months of training with not a single

Disabled person in sight the two genuinely disabled players came from outside Madrid in all that time the only medical test

He was ever subjected to six push-ups, then a blood pressure check

110 over 78

So they hit the floor in Sydney and during their first match the team played so well

against their disabled opponents that they were up 30 points by halftime at that point their coach told them to slow down and let the

other team shoot more saying allegedly let's move down the gear or they'll figure out you're not disabled so they moved down a gear and

It made no difference when you've stacked the deck so deeply and so well

How could it the entire week they cut down team after team after team and suddenly we're back to the medal ceremony

As the anthem plays as with every event in the Paralympics reporters begin to snap photos

Of the champions and soon those photos are sent to newspapers all over Spain

They're the nation's Paralympic champions after all but funny thing about photos

They tend to get seen when the teams picture appeared on the front page of a popular Madrid sports daily

It didn't take too long for players and coaches in that photo

To get recognized in an online article the comments section began to be filled with people claiming to know this guy or that guy,

how they weren't disabled at all and the whole scheme began to slowly, but surely, unravel.

Officials caught wind of the brewing storm and advised the players to wear sunglasses hats and grow beards

So they wouldn't be recognized when the team arrived back home after the plane touched down

C-man got off the flight and blew the whistle by publishing one of the most bizarre

exclusives of all time and two weeks later the team was officially

Disqualified and ordered to return the gold medals the fallout was so bad that the IPC announced

They would officially suspend all the events that involved intellectual disabilities all of them due to serious

difficulties in determining the eligibility of athletes that suspension would not be lifted until

2009 in 2013 after a decade of

Investigation in court battles Fernando Martinez sente was found guilty of fraud and forgery. He was fined

5,400 euros a lot of folks would call it a slap on the wrist but to be fair

He was also ordered to return the hundred and fifty thousand euros that he received from

Sponsorships due to the team's victory as for those 10 fake disabled Paralympians when all was said and done

They walked away with no charges

This is the point in the video where I'm supposed to come up with some kind of moral to wax poetic

About how crime doesn't pay and cheaters never prosper?

But I can't because that's not true

The world has plenty of athletes who will gladly bend and break the rules to get a bigger paycheck

Many of them prosper far beyond what the straight shooters ever will it'll always be like that

So I guess the only thing we can really take away from this the greatest Paralympic scandal of all time is

cheaters may prosper

But they won't be happy in a later interview

C-man said this about the team's attitude during the medal ceremony the whole thing was a farce really we stood there and listened

But it was a false medal. It was a false national anthem

Nobody really wanted to talk about it afterwards

See, that's the saddest thing about all this to me winning wasn't enjoyable for the team because the team's victory was a lie a gold

Medal shines brightest when it's won fairly and honorably

It's not nearly as satisfying

To win when there really was no challenge in the first place, right?

And it's not just that they won by dishonest means

It's that they stole the medals from other teams that actually were battling these hard mental disabilities

They robbed those Paralympians of the opportunity to grab a moment of victory a moment that many of them sorely needed

Cheat and get away with it and every prize you receive will feel hollow and meaningless

Oh and sheet and get caught and be prepared to have that stuff stick to you for the rest of your life

Even Carlos riba Gorda the hero of the story will have his name forever connected to the events at Sydney

He was the good guy

How much worse do you think it is to be one of the other nine or the guy labelled as the?

Mastermind of the whole operation in the end was this was all of this really worth it in

The heat of the moment it might have seemed so but at the last

What were they left with?

So yeah stay in school kids

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Captions By An Army Of Sentient Potatoes