By Melissa Hernandez
Legally blind athlete sues three major triathlon organizations for requiring visually impaired athletes to wear “black out glasses” in order to “level the playing field.”
The policy requires that all competitors, including partially blind athletes, wear the “black out glasses” in order to remove their visual advantage over the completely blind runners.
However, during an interview with Fox News, the seven-time triathlon World Champion, Aaron Scheidies, 30, said that “Anyone that has any vision, any light perception at all, is gonna use that vision, and they learn to use that vision for their balance so these black out glasses are basically knocking out one third of somebody’s balance system. “
In a Federal Lawsuit filed in Detroit last Wednesday, Scheidies claims the USA Triathlon, International Triathlon Union and 3-D Racing, LLC violate the American with Disabilities Act of 1990. According to the complaint, the controversial policies “discriminate against the blind and visually impaired and result in the denial of equal access to athletic competition and recreation.”
“It is simple illegal to require someone to have to become more disabled as an accommodation to allow for them to compete” said Richard Bernstein, Scheidies’ lawyer, who is also a triathlon runner and blind from birth, during an interview with Fox News.
Scheidies holds a Doctorate in Physical therapy form the University of Washington, is a seven-time triathlon World champion, eight-time National Champion, and successfully completed the Ironman competition with a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and a full 26.2 mile marathon, all done consecutively.
Although he is not seeking for monetary compensation, he is asking the three organizations to change the rules that now make him “fearful” to compete, since not many years ago competitors were placed in different categories depending on their level of disability.
While the ITU claims they are working on a new system for impaired participants, in an interview with TV20 Detroit Scheidies confessed: “If this rule doesn’t get taken away I don’t feel the enjoyment in any purpose in doing the sport.”