Heather Mills accused of abusing Paralympic official

Posted: 2013-12-19 10:41:28
Updated: 2013-12-20 11:07:36

(CNN) - Heather Mills' dream of skiing at the 2014 Winter Paralympics is over but the recriminations keep on flying.

Earlier this week the British Paralympic Association said Mills had made herself unavailable for selection in Sochi after an issue with an adaptive boot she uses to ski.

Mills, former wife of Beatles star Paul McCartney, had her left leg amputated below the knee after a road accident in 1993 and declared her intention to try and make the Games over two years ago.

But now she has been accused of grabbing an official from the International Paralympic Committee during a discussion about the eligibility of her equipment.

Craig Spence, the IPC's director of communications, told the UK Press Association that Mills had to be restrained after an alleged confrontation with the organization's skiing chief Sylvana Mestre.

Now Mills could be fined for her outburst, though the sequence of events presented by the IPC has been disputed by her own team.

"She was screaming, 'you're a b***h, you're a b***h, you don't know who I am, I'm going to make your life miserable,'" Spence was quoted as saying by the UK Press Association.

"Sylvana tried to walk away and Heather moved and grabbed at her and had to be restrained by the British coach.

"Heather has subsequently claimed in her statements that she has got an injury caused by the IPC forcing her to wear a heavier boot, but as far as we're aware she has been using the unapproved boot all season.

"We had notified her and her coach that if she continues to compete on that boot she would be disqualified but that her results from the season and Monday would still stand.

"Heather's subsequent statement that she had been disqualified is nonsense."

Despite missing out on Sochi, Mills has not given up on winter sports competition.

"Sylvana Mestre will step down after Sochi and maybe then the management of disabled sport can be reassessed, so that disabled athletes are treated with fairness and supported in their attempts to represent their country, in the same way able-bodied athletes are," said a Mills statement.

"Although her hopes and dreams for Sochi are now over, Heather hopes to one day compete in Winter sports when the IPC re-evaluate the unfair systems that they have in place.

In another statement given to the BBC, Mills' team also refuted the IPC's version of events.

It read: "Heather waited patiently -- as the IPC confirmed -- to try and explain to Sylvana Mestre that her left boot was legal and purely cosmetic to abide by the archaic IPC rules.

"It was just cut down and the buckles removed to stop more weight limb damage."

The statement went on to claim Mestre had shouted at Mills, refusing to let a Great Britain coach who was present explain the situation, before storming off.

Mills has won a series of medals since launching her bid to make the British Paralympic team, but has also suffered a string of injuries, fracturing her shoulder, snapping her cruciate ligament and damaging her scapula.

She married former Beatle Paul McCartney in 2002, four years after the singer's late wife Linda died, but the couple divorced six years later.

The British Paralympic Association said in a statement on Tuesday that Mills had decided to resign from British Disabled Ski Team (BDST), and thus give up any chance of being picked for Sochi.

It added: "Occasionally in sport equipment issues arise, especially with adaptive equipment and the interpretation of the rules in relation to its use.

"Therefore we are all saddened that she has decided to retire at this stage, rather than working with BDST and IPC Skiing to resolve the issue.

"Heather has shown determination and made great progress over the past few months and is to be commended for the success she's had in her skiing career."

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