A cyclist in Australia is accused of exaggerating physical impairments in order to gain a competitive advantage in para-cycling events, according to an investigation by Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
Stuart Jones, 53, is an Australian amateur cyclist who crashed into a parked car in 2014, injuring his spinal cord and leaving him with limited movement down the right side of his body. After physical rehabilitation and lots of determination, he resumed riding and even entered Newcastle Hunter Cycle Club races on traditional two-wheeled bikes according club members.
In 2017 he started racing in para-cycling events on three-wheeled trikes in the T2 disability class. T2 is reserved for cyclists who cannot ride a conventional two-wheeled bike due to moderate loss of stability and balance, as well as a limited ability to pedal. It includes people with disabilities like cerebral palsy. For safety, riders compete exclusively on trikes.
His friend, Sandy Kryzius, told ABC that Jones thought it would be easier to win para-cycling races. “I said to him, ‘Why are you riding this?’ And he’s like, ‘Well it’s the only way I can get into para-cycling’. Because the normal bicycle classifications, they were too fast for him.”
To compete in the T2 class, the national cycling organization required Jones to have an Underlying Health Condition that leads to a Permanent Eligible Impairment, submit supporting medical documents, complete an in-person classification assessment and meet the Minimum Impairment Criteria (unable to ride a conventional bike).
Jones was granted T2 status, started racing trikes and almost immediately won the 2017 Australian Para-cycling Road Nationals. He continued racing in world-class events, winning silver and bronze medals at the UCI Para-cycling World Championships in 2019 and 2022 respectively. He also represented Australia at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games.
According to the Australian Para-Cycling UCI Classifications Masterlist, Jones’ T2 status is “confirmed,” indicating no periodic or additional review of his disability is required going forward.
AusCycling indicated to ABC that they were not aware of Jones riding and racing two-wheeled bikes after his accident. In addition, they do not believe Jones was given special treatment from current or former staff when he was granted T2 status.
According to AusCycling Para-Cycling Classification Policy – Section 4.8, athletes may be sanctioned for Intentional Misrepresentation when it is “a deliberate attempt by an Athlete or Athlete Support Personnel (either by deed or omission) to mislead a Para-sport organisation or anyone else regarding the existence or extent of the Athlete’s skills and/or the nature of their eligible impairment. Intentional Misrepresentation may occur during Athlete Evaluation and/or at any point after the allocation of Sport Class.”
Jones has retained legal council surrounding the allegations of competing in para-cycling events under false pretense.
Photo Credit: Getty
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