The International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) has recently launched a new research project in collaboration with Loughborough University and British Wheelchair Basketball. The project aims to establish new Minimum Impairment Criteria. Rollt.’s Dylan Cummings sent IWBF a few questions about the project which the federation kindly answered.


What do you hope to achieve with this Minimum Impairment Criteria research project?

“The new Minimum Impairment Criteria (MIC) will be part of a revised set of IWBF Classification Rules, which are being implemented to ensure compliance with the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) Athlete Classification Code.”


Loughborough University will be the headquarters of the project, how will their involvement help benefit the project?

“The benefit of having Loughborough University lead on the project is that they are an internationally recognised centre of excellence for Sport, and a world leader in para-sport research. Professor Vicky Goosey-Tolfrey, Barry Mason, Michael Hutchinson, and the rest of the Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport have established an international reputation within para-sports classification over the past five years and can transfer knowledge they have from dealing with other para-sports’ classification.”


How will the input from British Wheelchair Basketball benefit the project?

“As part of the IWBF’s consultation regarding eligibility with national federations, British Wheelchair Basketball (BWB) approached IWBF to look at how they could support IWBF to meet IPC Classification Code compliance. IWBF identified the Minimum Impairment Criteria as a key area of focus. BWB introduced IWBF to Loughborough University in September and have contributed 50% of the project cost to facilitate the delivery of the Minimum Impairment Criteria research. This UK Sport/National Lottery funding contribution was identified as critical investment, with regards to international relations activities, to ensure a secure Paralympic future for the sport.”


How will this research project shape the future of wheelchair basketball?

“Every sport’s classification rules have to describe how severe an Eligible Impairment must be for an athlete to be considered eligible to compete in that particular sport. These criteria are referred to as Minimum Impairment Criteria. The Minimum Impairment Criteria ensures that an athlete’s Eligible Impairment affects the extent to which the athlete is able to execute the specific tasks and activities fundamental to the sport, in this case running basketball. This is not new to the sport and our current Classification Rules do include an MIC; however, the new MIC’s will be more comprehensive including defining an MIC for each eligible impairment group. The new MIC’s will not change what is considered an eligible impairment or what constitutes an underlying health condition for wheelchair basketball at an international level, as these are defined by the IPC Athlete Classification Code and International Standards for Eligible Impairments and must be reflected in IWBF’s Classification Code.”


Can you elaborate on the athlete-centred benefits of this research project?’

“Athlete involvement is hugely important to this research. A broad range of both current and former international athletes were invited to be part of the Expert Panel for the research project. In addition to this Erica Gavel from Canada is on the research study working group, as an IWBF athlete representative.”


What is your response to the people that say that this research should have been underway as soon as disputes started occurring between IWBF and IPC?

“The research is just a piece of the puzzle to become compliant. Work on the new Classification Rules has been underway since 2018, which has included the development of a new Minimum Impairment Criteria. The research project is to validate that the new MIC which has been drafted by classification experts and to support it with an evidence base.”


Are you able to give an estimated time scale as to when the research will be concluded, and the new Minimum Impairment Criteria will be implemented into IWBF Classification Rules?

“The study began in December 2020 with a planned findings publication date of July 2021. The new Minimum Impairment Criteria will be embedded into the new Classification Rules and implemented in an appropriate transitional process following the conclusion of the research project and approval from IPC.”


To view the IWBF’s press release on the new Minimum Impairment Criteria research project, click here.


Rollt. would like to thank IWBF for their time.


Questions: Dylan Cummings | Photo: Steffie Wunderl

Leave a Reply