March 14 - Classes for the intellectually disabled are to be added to the World Rowing Championships in Munich this year, it has been announced by governing body FISA.
Adaptive rowing classes were included in Paralympics in Beijing last year, the first time the classes had appeared on the programme.
But events for the intellectually disabled had been dropped from the Paralympics after the 2000 Games in Sydney, although there is a growing lobby for them to be included again at London 2012.
Fay Ho, the chair of FISA's adaptive committee, said that they had decided to include the events in Munich even though no decision had been made by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) about London, when the rowing events are due to take place at Eton Dorney.
The event to be included in Munich will be the legs, trunk and arms coxed four, denoted as LTA-IDMx4 and it will be for mixed gender intellectually disabled athletes with an able-bodied coxswain.
In the current coxed four, the LTAMx4 , for the Paralympic Games, only physically disabled athletes are included.
But under FISA rules the LTAMx4 can include intellectually disabled athlete.
Ho said: “Because intellectually disabled athletes were not included in the 2008 Paralympic programme, they couldn’t row for the last two years at the World Rowing Championships.
"So FISA decided that it is important to involve them every year, rather than two years on and two years off.
“Rowing, as a sport, is on the IPC’s list of sports that could possibly include intellectually disabled athletes.
"The IPC is considering whether or not to re-introduce events for these athletes.
"Our idea is to have intellectually disabled in their own boat, not mixed in with physically disabled.”
Ho said at present Portugal has a team while Hong Kong, Australia, Germany and the Netherlands are developing programmes.
Athletes with intellectual disabilities were first allowed to compete at the Paralympics in Atlanta in 1996 but there was controversy at the 2000 Paralympics in Sydney when Spain were stripped of their basketball gold medals shortly after the Games closed when Carlos Ribagorda, a member of the victorious team and an undercover journalist, revealed to the Spanish business magazine Capital that most of his colleagues had not undergone medical tests to ensure that they had a disability.
The IPC investigated the claims and found that the required mental tests, which should show that the competitors have an IQ no more than 70, were not conducted by the Spanish Paralympic Committee (CPE).