Claims that Paralympic and world sprint champion Sophie Hahn has been competing in the wrong category have been described as ‘baseless’ and ‘distressing’.
The allegations were made by Michael Breen, father of T38 long jump world champion Olivia, at a Parliamentary committee hearing into classification concerns in Paralympic sports.
Breen recounted a conversation with British Para-athletics head coach Paula Dunn in which he says she suggested Paralympic sprint champion Hahn was competing in the wrong category.
Hahn, who holds all of the major 100m titles in the T38 class, said in a statement she would welcome the chance to give evidence to the committee.
She has been tested internationally four times which confirmed her status as a T38 athlete through cerebral palsy which causes her hip and back issues.
“In May 2016 the IPC (International Paralympic Committee) looked into the classifications of a number of British para-athletes, including Miss Hahn,” the statement read.
“They concluded that, following detailed reviews including medical information, all the athletes were in the correct class, being a class for athletes with a co-ordination impairment that also encompasses cerebral palsy.”
The 20-year-old burst onto the scene in 2013 having been inspired to take up athletics after watching the 2012 London Olympics.
She won 100m gold and 200m silver at the IPC World Para-athletics Championships that year, and this summer completed a hat-trick of 100m titles.
Hahn is also the current T38 100m and 200m world record holder, and her achievements in winning her first Paralympic title last September helped earn her an MBE in the New Year’s Honours list.
The statement added: “It is a huge credit to Sophie as a person that while she has been subjected to repeated baseless allegations of improper classification, she has focussed solely on continuing to improve as an athlete.
“Sophie is one of the hardest-working athletes we have ever met and her fierce work ethic and determination to achieve excellence has been rewarded with multiple Paralympic and world titles.”
But extra scrutiny has come with the growth of the sport, and it was announced last week that classification rules would be revised, with effect from January 1.
The statement continued: “With athlete welfare such a hot topic in sport today, it is distressing for any athlete who is in the correct class in para sport to face such repeated and unfounded allegations.”