The Code has contributed to sporting excellence for all athletes in the Paralympic Movement by providing equitable competition through classification processes that are straightforward, transparent and fair.
What is a Code? That was the first question I asked in 2004 when invited to serve on the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Classification Code working group. Just what was this “Code” we are being asked to develop for Paralympic sport classification? To help me understand the foundational concepts, I explored the term and its many varied uses.
A code is a an organized system of signs, converting pieces of information such as words, letters or gestures into another form, for example, language is a code and referee signals during a sporting match are a code. Every aspect of daily life throughout the cultures of the world is governed by codes; some are extremely transparent and understood by all, while other codes are covert for purposes of secrecy. Legal codes, or a collection of rules imposed by authority, form the foundation of this type of “Code”, such as the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) Code or the IPC Classification Code.
The impetus for the Classification Code came from the IPC Classification Strategy approved by the IPC’s Governing Board in 2003. The key provision recommended the creation of a universal code to support and coordinate the development and implementation of accurate, reliable and consistent sport focused classification systems.
The IPC appointed a working group to draft the document. I was part of this group that included classifiers, coaches, classification administrators and legal experts. The most significant achievement in the drafting of the IPC Classification Code was the provision of a framework for classification regulations and procedures. Since its adoption in 2007, the Code has brought together classification regulations where previously procedures had varied, and, in some cases, was not written down, was not publicly available or did not exist. The Code has contributed to sporting excellence for all athletes in the Paralympic Movement by providing equitable competition through classification processes that are straightforward, transparent and fair.
Building on the experience gained in the past six years and to further advance classification efforts, the IPC has again initiated a Code consultation period similar to that used in its development. This will allow a practical review of the Code’s provisions and some fine-tuning to enhance classification programs worldwide. The Code review process will result in an even stronger, more robust tool to ensure that all athletes benefit from the same classification procedures and processes, no matter the sport, the nationality, or the country where evaluated, so that, in the end, athletes may achieve their highest level of sporting excellence.
We encourage comments and suggestions, from both stakeholders and all those who want equitable sport to benefit the global community of Paralympic athletes. The consultation provides this opportunity to contribute constructively to the improvement of the Code.
The review will consist of two rounds of consultation. The first round of consultation began 1 June and is open until 30 September 2013. The second round of consultation will take place from 1 June until 30 June 2014. You can submit your views via the feedback form to the right of this page.
The modified Code will be presented by the IPC Governing Board as a motion at the 2015 IPC General Assembly, with amendments to take effect within one year of approval.
I hope you can find some time to find out what it is all about.
The IPC is currently carrying out a review of the IPC Classification Code and encourages athletes, member organizations, classifiers and other interested stakeholders to suggest changes to the current Code.