This is Josef Craig, he's Britain's youngest Paraympic gold medalist. Still only 19 years of age, Josef has just been disqualified from appearing in the 100m freestyle final of the IPC European Championships (despite winning his heat) in Madeira because.....he failed to cover up his tattoo!
in 2012 Josef won gold at the London Paralympics yet, four years later, the tattoo which celebrates his achievement is considered "advertising" by the International Paralympic Committee.
A spokesman said, " Body advertising is not allowed in any way whatsoever and that includes the Olympic rings. The athlete did not wear a cover and was therefore disqualified." He went on to say, "All teams are informed of the advertising policy at a technical meeting prior to competition so it wasn't as if they had not been reminded about the rules."
Of course, you can take the stance that he knew the rules and it's his own fault for failing to cover the tattoo up, something he did do in the heats. Alternatively, you can ask, "What is he advertising?" Does he get paid to advertise the IPC? I'd have thought not. Will people rush to join the IPC? erm.....on this evidence, probably not.
This young man celebrated a remarkable achievement with a tattoo and today he's been punished for it. He's taken no drugs, he's had not been involved in blood doping, he hasn't deliberately hampered the opposition....He's had a tattoo, which I suspect he paid for and equally suspect he's received no payment for displaying it.
To my knowledge tattoos have yet to be proven to make people swim faster and they are at best only as streamlined as the skin they are embedded in yet, despite winning his heat, he will sit out the 100m final on a bullshit "advertising" technicality".
Apparently, the Olympic rings are, "... the exclusive property of the International Olympic Committee. They are marked protected around the world and can not be used without the IOC's prior consent." Are we to expect sanctions against every Olympic and Paralympic athlete who ever had the IOC's five rings tattooed upon them?
Josef, a cerebral palsy sufferer, who hails from Jarrow sensationally set TWO world records at the age of just 15, is still eligible to compete in the 400m event, provided he covers the tattoo up.
I know sports have rules but in a world where footballers dive to gain an advantage, a world where doping is increasingly common place and a world where cheating has almost become the norm, apparently using the Olympic rings without permission is unforgivable.
Football has resisted video replays, allegedly because it will slow the game down (or could it be because the richest clubs might now and again suffer at the hands of video evidence). Corruption and cheating has marred every sport to one degree or another and has remained largely unchecked yet this young man from the North East of England is disqualified for celebrating and commemorating his own outstanding achievements with a tattoo.
I wonder if FIFA would punish Lionel Messi were he to win the World Cup and then celebrate it with a tattoo. I believe not. If only, Josef Craig competed in a sport where money mattered more than the finer points of its own rules.