Adaptive athletes are an incredibly important part of the CrossFit community. Creating a fair and inclusive competition for every athlete based on a combination of scientific data and community feedback is always top of mind for us, so we want to address some of the concerns we’ve heard regarding classification and eligibility requirements for the 2023 CrossFit Games season.
For the current Games season, we updated our adaptive athlete policy by changing the Neuromuscular division to the Multi-Extremity division. We acknowledge that this change has caused confusion and want to provide transparency around why the decision was made.
Prior to 2021, we hosted exhibitions of adaptive athletes at the Games, but athletes were vocal about wanting the sport to shift from recreational to competitive. In response, we added divisions and have allowed for in-person competition for the more populous divisions.
At the end of the 2022 season, we received numerous complaints of an unfair division and multiple accusations from athletes about intentional misrepresentation of impairments. Simultaneously, our Adaptive Competition Eligibility Board (ACEB) — which is made up of five experts with extensive clinical experience, including three physicians — independently observed athletes on-site at the Games and concluded that the division needed to be reevaluated. We selected these board members for their expertise in medicine, adaptive sport classification, and CrossFit competition in order to ensure that our classification and eligibility requirements are scientifically backed.
Once the Games concluded, and throughout the fall, ACEB and CrossFit HQ began an extensive review of the adaptive season and a few key actions were taken including the outlining of Sport Classes to define impairments for each class — these can be viewed on pages 21-32 of the Adaptive Athlete Policy. At this time, it was also decided to include the new scaled category for adaptive athletes in 2023, which permitted athletes to modify the Open tests as appropriate for them to maintain the stimulus and increase inclusion of athletes with disabilities in the Open. Finally, ACEB’s expertise, along with extensive research done at CrossFit HQ in para-sport classification by the International Paralympic Committee, informed the updates to the 2023 policy. CrossFit’s system is modeled on the same 10 eligible impairments identified by the International Paralympic Committee.
One consequence of changing the eligibility requirements is that a number of athletes who were previously in the Neuromuscular division are no longer eligible, and we do not currently have a separate adaptive division in which they can compete. In a perfect world, we would create a division to capture the athletes who no longer meet the minimum impairment criteria, but that was not possible within the 2023 season due to resource constraints.
It is important to acknowledge that even if an athlete no longer qualifies, it does not mean they do not have real, life-impacting impairments. They are a part of the CrossFit adaptive community and should be celebrated for their fitness and commitment to CrossFit.
The evaluations we did after the 2022 season led us to our first year requiring eligibility for all adaptive athletes — previously, we only vetted athletes in placement positions. The majority of adaptive athletes who submitted for eligibility have been deemed eligible. Those who have not completed eligibility will be moved to the scaled leaderboard to maintain the integrity of the Rx’d competition. Eligibility is vitally important to creating a fair and inclusive competition for the community of athletes with disabilities.
For 2023, we will not be modifying the Adaptive Athlete Policy or reversing any classification decisions that have been made by the eligibility board. It is important that we follow the rules set out this year and continue to treat each athlete consistently. We understand the emotional impact of being deemed ineligible and have taken all feedback from affected athletes to heart.
We want to thank the Adaptive Divisional Athlete Committee — who represent their competitive division in planning conversations for every stage of the CrossFit Games season — for their constructive feedback throughout the season, in addition to members of the global CrossFit community who have engaged in mutually respectful communication. We also want to thank our adaptive athletes for competing this year, cooperating to elevate CrossFit’s competition standards, and once again showing that CrossFit athletes deserve to be recognized in the top echelon of competitors worldwide.
We are hopeful that these changes will have a positive impact on the 2023 adaptive athlete competition, and just like we did at the close of the 2022 Games, we will work diligently to evaluate 2023 and chart a path for the future.
Please continue to reach out to us by emailing email@example.com. We’re listening.