Deminor Announces Support for André Brasil in Lawsuit Against IPC


Brussels, June 28, 2024Deminor Litigation Funding is proud to announce its support for Brazilian Para swimmer André Brasil in his ground-breaking lawsuit against the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). This initiative is part of Deminor’s ongoing commitment to promote fairness, equity, and inclusion in sport and beyond.

Deminor Announces Support for Paralympic Swimmer André Brasil in Lawsuit Against IPC

André Brasil, a decorated Paralympic Athlete with a sporting career spanning over 16 years, including successful participation in the 2008 Beijing, 2012 London, and 2016 Rio Paralympic Games, faced a sudden career-ending setback when he was reclassified as ineligible to compete in Paralympic sport following a 2018 revision of the classification system by World Para Swimming (WPS). This reclassification, which occurred in 2019, has raised crucial questions about the transparency and fairness of the classification process for para-athletes.

In response to this reclassification as non-eligible, the Athlete and the Brazilian Paralympic Committee (CBP) initiated legal proceedings against the IPC at the seat of the IPC before a German state court, represented by a team of attorneys at German Law Firm Arnecke Sibeth Dabelstein around Counsel Alexander Engelhard. Their lawsuit argues that the classification process in Paralympic sport is fundamentally flawed and violates human rights as well as German and European antitrust laws.

Based on the 2018 classification rules, the Athlete was classified as “non-eligible” by one point, while medical evidence shows that the classification was wrong. Such medical evidence was not taken into account by the IPC. The rules prohibit an athlete to submit medical evidence before the IPC Board of Appeal of Classification to challenge a classification decision.

The IPC claims that it changed the classification rules because it wanted to make classification in para-swimming more reliable. In fact, the subjective system still produces unfair results and is prone to manipulation. The IPC never provided any medical evidence to justify the rule changes. There was no meaningful athlete participation in the rule change, nor did the IPC grant a sufficient transitionary period for athletes to adapt to the rule changes that directly affect their eligibility. Furthermore, not all classifiers were sufficiently trained to perform classifications based on the new rules. Classifiers don’t use sophisticated technical equipment to classify athletes.

While the results produced by the para-swimming classification system are not reliable, the IPC restricts athletes from seeking legal recourse against a wrong classification. The IPC Board of Appeal of Classification only reviews procedural aspects of a classification but not whether a classification result was incorrect. Moreover, athletes are prohibited from appealing a classification decision before an independent state court or arbitral tribunal.

Despite these obvious shortcomings, the first-instance Cologne Regional Court initially sided with the IPC, finding that it had the right to change its rules regardless of the devastating consequences for athletes, thereby concluding André Brasil's Paralympic journey. The outcome was described by the Brazilian Paralympic Committee as one of the saddest episodes in the history of global Paralympics.

While the Athlete, in the meantime, officially retired from his sport due to the time passed since his reclassification, he continued his fight for justice with an appeal before the Düsseldorf Court of Appeal, extending his initial prayers for relief by claiming damages for the sudden and involuntary end to his career. In a landmark ruling, the Court eventually overturned the first-instance decision, holding that the IPC, as a monopolist in the field of competitive Paralympic swimming, indeed had an obligation to grant the Athlete a sufficient grace period in order to prepare him for the rule change and his potential ineligibility. Because the IPC failed to do so, the IPC was ordered to pay damages to the Athlete.

The IPC has not accepted the decision but seeks further appeal before the Federal Court of Justice. A request for admission is currently pending.

Deminor wishes to support the Athlete’s fight for fairness and inclusivity, which mirrors our values. Deminor’s founding beliefs and purpose can be found in the company’s name, derived from the French term ‘défense des minoritaires', reflecting its commitment to the pursuit of good causes and its determination to restore justice.

Quote from Dr. Malte Stübinger, General Counsel Germany at Deminor:

"We stand firmly with André Brasil in his quest for justice and fairness. This case is just the tip of the iceberg, shedding light on the broader issues that potentially affect thousands of athletes globally. The classification process, as it stands, raises serious concerns about transparency and fairness, impacting numerous athletes who dedicate their lives to their sport, as do other one-sided changes of admission criteria in professional sports. By supporting André, we are advocating for a broader change that champions the rights and fair treatment of all athletes. It's essential that we address these systemic issues to ensure that the spirit of competition remains just and equitable for everyone."

Quote from Alexander Engelhard, Counsel at Arnecke Sibeth Dabelstein:

“We are grateful to have found a reliable and value-driven litigation funder in Deminor to support our client in his important lawsuit. André Brasil has suffered tremendously because of the IPC’s actions, not only financially, but also psychologically, by being denied the right to further participate in the sport which was his life. The damage and trauma caused can never be undone, but at the very least the IPC must be ordered to pay compensation for the financial damage it caused to André Brasil by ending his career from one day to the next.

After all, this case has the potential to redefine and further develop important pillars of the relationship of sports governing bodies and athletes far beyond the world of Paralympic Swimming. With the financial backing of Deminor, we are in a position to keep up the fight. Together we will do what it takes to allow the Federal Court of Justice to decide in the Athlete’s favour.”

Deminor’s backing of André Brasil's case underscores our dedication to these principles, particularly in advocating for the rights and fair treatment of athletes worldwide. We stand with André Brasil and the global sporting community in calling for more transparent and equitable practices in the administration of sports and the protection of athlete rights.

We encourage the global community to join us in supporting André Brasil and to stay informed on the developments of this pivotal case. Together, we can make a difference in ensuring that the spirit of competition remains fair and just for all athletes.

For more information about André Brasil's case and funding opportunities for athletes, please contact:

Alexander Engelhard, Counsel at Arnecke Sibeth Dabelstein:

Dr. Malte Stübinger, General Counsel Germany at Deminor



About Deminor: 

Founded in 1990, Deminor is a leading privately owned international litigation funder with 9 international offices with specialists in arbitration, enforcement, intellectual property, competition, investments & tax, corporate & post-M&A. 

Combining skill sets from 19 different nationalities and 22 languages, Deminor's track record stands at a positive recovery of 77.8% in all concluded cases across 22 jurisdictions, surpassing the industry average of 70%. 



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