Snowboarder wins participation in the Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing

After three hours of oral proceedings, the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court (OLG), Cartel Senate, ( VI-6 W 1/22 (Kart)) yesterday ordered the Bonn-based International Paralympic Committee to admit Brenna Huckaby to the women’s banked slalom and cross slalom competitions in Beijing in the LL-2 class, although she herself belongs to the LL-1 class, a class for athletes with a more severe degree of impairment. There will be no competitions in the LL-1 class in Beijing. A request by the US Paralympic Committee to allow Brenna Huckaby to compete in the men’s LL-1 has been rejected by the IPC, as well as a right to compete in the women’s LL-2.

In November, WIESCHEMANN Rechtsanwälte, attorney Christof Wieschemann, applied to the Regional Court of Cologne for an interim injunction, with which they were successful today in the second instance. The application is based on claims from the General Equal Treatment Act, general civil law, but also the principle of equality from Art. 3 of tGerman Constitution and the antitrust law admission claim of athletes against monopoly-like associations such as the IPC.  

In the end, the Cartel Senate of the OLG Düsseldorf followed the view of the petition that it violates the prohibition of a dominant position if athletes with a greater degree of impairment are denied access to competitions of athletes with a lesser degree of impairment and thus denied participation in such an important sporting event as the Paralympic Games. Although the IPC’s classification system fundamentally serves to protect the weaker athletes and is intended to create competitive justice in their sense, its application to athletes with a higher degree of impairment must not establish a right of defence in favour of the stronger athletes.

The IPC argues in a self-referential manner and is guided exclusively by its own system of rules, the effects of which it fails to recognise in individual cases. The examination of the specific decision does not stand up to a comparison with state law and constitutional guarantees.

The judgement is justified because the type of disability in the LL-1 and LL-2 classes is comparable and only differs in its effects, and Brenna Huckaby – and likewise Cecile Hernandez – have shown through their outstanding performances that they also have a chance of winning in the LL-2 class. 

The judgement is therefore based on the individual case, but is of fundamental importance for the implementation of inclusion in sport.

“The point of these classifications is to protect the weaker athletes, and by excluding Brenna and Cecile, they were protecting the stronger ones in the competition,” he said.

“This is unprecedented without any other example in in the past as far as I know – I hope it will be a leading case for the future and in the Paralympic movement for inclusion in sport.”

We are very happy for Brenna Huckaby, a great athlete and person with an incredibly positive charisma. Many thanks to Paul Greene, Global Sports Advocates, from Portland for the trustful cooperation and the joint tireless commitment to athletes’ rights.

Cecile Hernandez, who is also represented by Ra Christof Wieschemann, has not formally been a party to the proceedings so far. However, the hearing left no doubt that her legal position is identical and that she also has a claim for admission. WIESCHEMANN Rechtsanwälte will also enforce this claim. We assume that, in view of the clarity of the court’s statements, there will be no need for further court proceedings.