Athletes including Britain’s Jonnie Peacock and Richard Whitehead are set to be affected by the updated rules

World Para Athletics has announced that a revision of its classification rules and regulations will come into force for the 2018 season, with a number of “major changes” set to be made.

The international federation said that, as a result of “extensive consultation”, new testing has been introduced to assist decision making in classification to further ensure that athletes are allocated the appropriate sport class.

From the start of next year, World Para Athletics will introduce a new T61-64 sport classes group, while all athletes with a confirmed or fixed date review in sport classes T/F 20, T/F 31-34 and T/F35-38 will be placed back to a review status for the next year.

World Para Athletics explained how the T61-64 sport classes group will commonly feature ‘athletes who run or jump with prosthetic lower limbs’. The existing T42-44 classes – which currently feature athletes such as Britain’s Jonnie Peacock (T44) and Richard Whitehead (T42) – will now exclusively be for athletes with lower limb impairment who are able to run or jump using two anatomical limbs.

The new structure announced by World Para Athletics will include:

  • T61 for athletes with double leg above the knee amputation who compete in running or jumping using prostheses;
  • T62 for athletes with double below the knee amputation who compete in running or jumping using prostheses;
  • T63 for athletes with single above the knee amputation who compete in running or jumping using a prosthesis;
  • T64 for athletes with single below the knee amputation who compete in running or jumping using a prosthesis.

Writing on Twitter, two-time Paralympic and four-time world T42 200m champion Whitehead described the changes as a “backward step”.

“Sport should be about challenging athletes to be the best athletically,” he added. “This will lead to smaller numbers in events.”

As AW reported earlier this year, it had already been announced that some para athletics world records would be archived at the end of 2017 following the introduction of new rules for double leg amputee classes.

In July, World Para Athletics confirmed that a new formula would be introduced to calculate the maximum allowable standing height (MASH) for double leg amputees from January 1, 2018, meaning any world and regional records set by athletes competing in below-knee T43/F43 and above-knee T42/F42 double leg amputee classes before this time would be archived.

On the changes announced on Thursday (October 26), Peter Van de Vliet, the IPC medical and scientific director, said: “These are major changes for the sport of para athletics, but major changes that are being made following full consultation with the para athletics community and relevant research groups. We would like to thank everyone for their support in these steps.

“Classification is an evolving process and, armed with better research, we can take important decisions like this to further develop the sport. By introducing additional testing for the 20s and 30s classes we can assist further in the correct classification of athletes.”

Ryan Montgomery, IPC summer sports director, said: “We would like to thank the membership of para athletics and our research partners for the great work they have conducted to ensure classification in para athletics remains objective and transparent.

“We are also looking forward to bringing together all of our World Para Athletics classifiers in the upcoming weeks, where they will undergo an extensive recertification process prior to the implementation of the new rules in 2018.”