Inside The Paralympics

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Episodes

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Canadian Wheelchair Rugby Team2012082420120825 (WS)
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Gareth Mitchell reports from Canada where he has exclusive access to one of the world's leading wheelchair rugby teams as they complete their last minute training before the Paralympics.

Invented in Canada, and originally called 'Murderball', wheelchair rugby has been an Olympic sport since the Sydney Games in 2000.

Now the game is spreading worldwide, with new teams springing up across South America and Europe.

On court, it's a battle of clashing metal and racing adrenalin, as the players smash into each other to score goals and block opponents.

As coach Kevin Orr concedes, it's not what people expect from people with disabilities.

"They're out for the adrenalin," he explains.

"They're out there for the bang. That's the mindset that you need to play this game at a high level."

Gareth meets this extraordinary team and finds out what lies behind their drive to succeed.

(Image: Ryley Batt (#3) of Australia and Garett Hickling (#5) of Canada battle for the ball on day one of the LOCOG Test Event for London 2012 International Invitational Wheelchair Rugby Tournament between. Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Gareth Mitchell meets one of the world's best wheelchair rugby teams.

Cheating In The Paralympics2012082320120824 (WS)
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Measures to stop drugs cheats in the Paralympics are already in place but as BBC World Service Science Correspondent Matt McGrath reports, the rule book is a long one.

For athletes with physical or intellectual disabilities, medication might be part of their daily routine.

Sports men and women with epilepsy for example, take drugs daily to maintain their health.

Such sanctioned medicine mean the drug-testing policies of the World Anti Doping Control (WADO) have to be specially adapted, so that those using performance enhancing drugs are still caught by the rigorous testing, while those who need medication for genuine ailments and conditions, are protected.

And there are other ways to cheat in the Paralympics.

It's possible for disabled competitors to control physiology in ways that cannot be used by able bodied athletes.

Matt investigates how cheating will be caught and finds out how concerned officials are about the potential for cheating.

(Image: A urine sample being tested for drugs at the Drug Control Centre at King's College London. Credit: Press Association)

Matt McGrath investigates how cheating will be caught in the Paralympic Games.

Intellectual Disabilities: Back In The Fold2012082020120821 (WS)
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The athletes with learning disabilities, competing in the Paralympics after a 12 year ban.

Athletes with intellectual disabilities have been banished from the Paralympics for the past 12 years following cheating by the Spanish.

At the Sydney Games in 2000, Spain fielded a basketball team who pretended to have learning disabilities and then won the gold medal.

When the scandal was uncovered, all athletes with genuine learning disabilities were excluded from future Paralympic Games while the rules were tightened.

For the London Paralympics this summer, the exclusion order has finally been lifted and Claudia Hammond reports from Sweden as their elite Paralympians complete last-minute training schedules before flying to London, to compete in athletics, swimming and table tennis.

She hears about the complex and rigorous new classification system designed to satisfy concerns that athletes competing do have genuine intellectual disabilities and hears about the anger of world-class sportspeople who were denied access to Olympic events.

(Image: Jeffrey Ige, Swedish shot putter. Image by Claudia Hammond)

Technology2012082120120822 (WS)
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Gareth Mitchell looks at the technology behind the Paralympics.

Gareth Mitchell looks at the technology behind the Paralympics and finds out how new products are designed and developed.

He travels into the heart of Germany to visit the headquarters of Ottobock, one of the world's leading manufacturers of carbon fibre running blades.

Five times stronger than steel, the blade has 80 layers of carbon, each thinner than a human hair.

He meets 100m sprinter Heinrich Popow, hoping to clinch gold in this year's Paralympics.

However, as the athletes are keen to point out, their performance isn't driven by technological advances, the technology has to keep up with them.

What does the future hold for Paralympic technology?

Gareth talks to Professor Andy Miah about emerging technologies that could have athletes delivering superhuman performances in the future.

But will these advances fall foul of the stringent rules applied in the games?

(Image: Heinrich Popow, 100m sprinter. Credit: Ottobock)

Ukraine's Success2012082220120823 (WS)
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In Beijing in 2008 the Ukrainian Paralympic team came fourth in the league of medals.

Andriy Kravets discovers how the country managed this surprising achievement and how it is preparing for the London Games.

He questions whether the success of its Paralympic team has had an impact of how disability is viewed in Ukraine.

(Image: Lidiya Solovyova, she won gold and broke the world record for women under 40kg by lifting 105.5kg in the Beijing Olympics, 2008)

Has the success of Ukraine's Paralympic team had an impact on how disability is viewed?