Interview with George Bates: “I’m starting to realise this is a lot bigger than just my own case”

Following on from the statement he gave Rollt. a couple days ago, GB’s George Bates spoke at length with Dylan Cummings about the current situation.


How do you feel about being ruled ineligible for the Paralympic Games?

“It’s devastating, it’s the pinnacle of our sport and as a young athlete growing up it’s the competition, I’ve wanted to win the most. To have that taken away from me is just crushing.”


How do your teammates feel about your ineligibility ruling?

“I can’t speak for them, but I know from the number of messages I’ve had from them they all they can’t believe it. But on a wider sense the wheelchair basketball community seems to be against this ruling. The number of messages from athletes all over the world I’ve had showing me support has been amazing.”


Can you explain to the best of your ability what your disability is?

“I have Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CPRS), which involves me being in constant pain which for me is in my left leg. Off the back of that, I have multiple problems with my passive range of movement and muscle power, I use a crutch to walk and get around in my day-to-day life.”


Can you explain to the best of your ability how you acquired your disability?

“I had an injury playing football when I was 11 and the condition developed from there.”



Can you explain to the best of your ability the medical history of your disability?

“For the first two to three years after acquiring the disability I couldn’t put any weight through my left leg, I used two crutches or a wheelchair to get around. For five years, I went to the hospital literally every day for physiotherapy, to try and get me in a position to be able to walk with a crutch. I can’t really walk far with the crutch. For anything that involves a lot of walking I take a day chair to ease the pain.”


How does it make you feel that your disability isn’t recognised by the IPC?

“I just think it’s sad, you can’t define disability into 10 strict categories, disability is really complex, players should be judged individually and not just ‘fit’ into 10 boxes to be considered eligible. I can’t walk very far at all, I can’t run, I can’t ride a bike. What am I supposed to do? I can’t play any able-bodied sport and now I can’t play any disability sport.”


What’s your opinion on the IPC ruling out certain disabilities?

“Incredibly ignorant.”


How has this situation affected your mental health?

“It’s not done it much good! To essentially have the sport taken away from me after 10 years of training every day is hard to process.”


How will this situation affect your day-to-day life going forward?

“It’s going to be a looming cloud over my head until it is done. But I’ll focus on resolving this issue. I’ve had so many people message me, with similar conditions, just starting their basketball journey, and other sports, desperate for me to fight it and to be a voice for them. I’m starting to realise this is a lot bigger than just my own case, this affects so many people with an invisible disability.”


In your Instagram statement, you mentioned the possibility of you getting an amputation, how far ahead have you planned this process out?

“I obviously won’t make that decision lightly, there’s a lot to think about there in terms of life let alone sport. It’s an option that’s there.”


What legal action do you intend to take going forward?

“I’m not going to say too much on this, to me the classification system seems discriminatory, in terms of an athlete not having the ‘right type’ of disability. If you’re disabled, you’re disabled.”


Can you still play for Mideba in the Division de Honour under your 4.5 classification?

“After speaking with the IWBF they have said that all national leagues will get to decide what they do in terms of the points of previously classified players. So, at this current moment, I have no idea.”


Can you elaborate on how the inclusive nature of wheelchair basketball gave you a new lease of life when you first started playing?

“I was 11 years old when I had my injury, I played football and cricket every day of the week. My world was then turned upside down when I couldn’t play any sport. Basketball gave me an outlet as a kid to actually realise you can still play a sport and life isn’t over. I really needed that as a 13-year-old thinking my life was over.”


Why do you think it’s important for wheelchair basketball to continue to have an inclusive nature?

“It’s so important, it offers an outlet for every single disability. But this code that the IPC are trying to implement is not inclusive. People with registered and proven disabilities are being turned away from an inclusive disability sport.”


Thanks for your time mate!


Rollt. would like to thank George Bates for the interview.


George Bates Profile:

Date of Birth: 18/06/1994 (aged 26)

Hometown: Leicester, Leicestershire

Started playing: 2008

GB senior debut: 2017 European Championships – Tenerife, Spain

Classification: 4.5

Disability: Complex Regional Pain Syndrome which causes muscle wastage in the left leg

Current club: Mideba Extremadura, ESP (2018-Present)

Former clubs:

_Leicester Cobras, GBR (2008-14)

_Sheffield Steelers, GBR (2012-14, 2017-18)

_GSD Porto Torres, ITA (2014-17)

Career Highlights:

_2013 U23 World Championships – Adana, Turkey – 4th (GB)

_2014 U22 European Championships – Zaragoza, Spain – Gold (GB)

_2017 European Championships – Tenerife, Spain – Silver (GB)

_2018 World Championships – Hamburg, Germany – Gold (GB)

_2019 Men’s European Championships – Walbrzych, Poland – Gold (GB)


You can view George’s Instagram statement here.

You can view George’s original statement to Rollt. here.

You can view the IPC’s International Standards for Eligible Impairments here.

For global mental health support, click here.

Note: If any current or former athletes or coaches want a platform to voice how they feel about the situation, message me – Dylan Cummings


Interview: Dylan Cummings | Photo: Steffie Wunderl

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