une 4 – The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) will not take action against Dutch Para-cyclist Monique van der Vorst, who won two handcycling silver medals at Beijing 2008 only to start walking again in 2010, as it closed the case today.
The 28-year-old lost the use of her left leg as a result of complications following surgery to correct an ongoing ankle injury when she was 13, but an accident in March 2010, where was struck from behind by a cyclist while out training, led her to start feeling tingling sensations in her paralysed limb.
The IPC then decided to look into the case to determine whether she had intentionally misrepresented her impairment during her Paralympic career following some of the quotes attributed to the athlete in the media.
The IPC said that Van der Vorst provided a comprehensive and clear picture of her story when the body contacted her and concluded that she had experienced “conversion disorder”.
Conversion disorder is considered a psychiatric condition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition, and can cause people to suffer from neurological symptoms, such as numbness, blindness, paralysis, or fits without a definable organic cause.
It is thought that symptoms arise in response to stressful situations affecting a patient’s mental health, however no concrete evidence has been found that proves episodes of conversion are not symptoms of an underlying organic cause.
Monique van der Vorst won two silver medals at the Beijing 2008 Paralympics
“As the global governing body of the Paralympic Movement and the owner of the Paralympic Games, it is the IPC’s duty to look into cases such as this, especially considering the extraordinary facts and statements that were presented in the media by the athlete,” the IPC’s medical and scientific director, Peter van de Vliet, said.
“We spent over 12 months gathering as much evidence as possible on the matter to ascertain and understand all aspects of the case.
“Over the course of her Paralympic career Monique presented for classification on several occasions with supportive medical evidence of muscular dystrophy and pain-related clinical manifestation.
“On this basis she was allocated a sport class to compete in handcycling.
“Decisions on her classification were made on the basis of the available medical documentation at the time, although post career a more conclusive diagnosis was made on the athlete.
“The IPC accepts therefore that Monique did not deliberately misrepresent her impairment when subject to classification evaluation on a number of occasions during her Para-cycling career.”
The IPC did say, however, that it will be looking for classification panels to increase efforts to verify underlying impairment types, in particular when clinical manifestation is confounded by pain, and reminded athletes and their support staff to disclose full medical diagnostic information prior to presenting for classification.