In what may be one of the biggest scandals in sporting history, a former sports chief has been found guilty of sending a side all the way to Paralympic gold that had no disabilities at all.
Fernando Martin Vicente selected the Spanish basketball squad at the 2000 Sydney Paralympics, only for one of the players to claim soon after that they – as well as other Spanish representatives in Sydney – that members of the team were not physically or mentally deficient.
“Of the 200 Spanish athletes at Sydney at least 15 had no type of physical or mental handicap - they didn't even pass medical or psychological examinations,” Carlos Ribagorda wrote in magazine Capital days after the Paralympics concluded.
Now a Madrid court has finally taken action, fining Vicente £4,600 and ordering him to return £120,500 in Government subsidies received under false pretenses.
Eighteen others, including members of the basketball team and other authority figures at the Spanish Federation for Mentally Handicapped Sports, saw their charges dropped on Monday.
The Sydney Paralympics were Spain’s most successful as they finished third in the table behind Australia and Britain with 107 medals.
The Spain basketball team won the intellectually-handicapped gold, but Ribagorda explained that no real tests were carried out, barring a physical of just six press-ups.
The final team, though featuring two players with IQs below 70 as required, was otherwise comprised of 10 players posing as mentally disabled using fabricated medical certificates.
In their opening game, the Spanish basketball side led China by 30 points at which point Ribagorda claims the coach told the players to “move down a gear or they will figure out you’re not really disabled”.
Vicente resigned as head of the Spanish Federation for Mentally Handicapped Sports after the Capital article was published, though he argued that he was guilty of errors in judgment rather than any pre-meditated schemes.
"If someone wants to cheat, it's difficult to detect. It's easy to pretend you have little intelligence but the opposite is difficult," he said when he announced his resignation.