IPC swimming uses a photo-shopped fake amputee image for official championship poster [they should not have done that]

The IPC (International Paralympic Committee) (twitter)does not appear to refrain from using cheap photo-shopping to turn a butterfly swimmer into an apparent arm amputee for their poster for the 2013 IPC Swimming World Championships Montreal, Canada. As is shown in more detail below, their behavior exhibits clear features of gamesmanship (such as: "it is only cheating if you get caught", "the end always justifies the means", "faking (..) an injury") but definitely, this does not represent any real sportsmanship.

There were others before, that faked images, too, so the IPC certainly are not the inventors of this trick. And fake instances as such are a real issue for disabled sports anyway. It is thus adequate to voice criticism for this type of poster or banner due to many reasons.

This is somewhat (but not quite) similar to the recent scandal that unfolded after a leg amputee was found to be the result of photo-shopping. There, the same problem was discussed. Not only do amputee actors or photo models exist, also, amputee athletes exist, really. No need to fake them. And not only do they have problems finding gigs and jobs, opportunities and roles, they are also proud to find and work on good opportunities. But not only do they face discrimination on the job and gig market as such, also they face a problem no one in their sane mind would consider: they now, and here, and on the poster of IPC Swimming, fight competition of "faked digital art".

A difference to general advertising photography and movie shooting that I see may be that the IPC functionaries really should go out of their way to develop a particularly well developed ambition to show their own real athletes - for so many more reasons than, but including, the ones outlined above.

But as these images show, you never know.

This is the real commercially sold photo that was used by the IPC (source: ISSTOCKPHOTO, copyright petrelos):


This is the arm amputee image that IPC Swimming came up with and used on their Canadian Paralympic Committee and IPC Swimming facebook pages (downloaded from there on August 4th 2013) which is in fact the same very image, as you can see when comparing image details, with the notable exception that the swimmer has been edited into an arm amputee, thus bestowing upon him a "physical health issue" according to license regulation 4/7:

(C) Copyright IPC Swimming

1005343_10152548411465021_1144072116_n (1)

This really is the same image, except, of course, that it has been digitally edited. Quite obviously. Anyone should see this at once based on the images above.

Now, I work with digital images since decades. What we do with digital image, color and 3D data goes a hell of a lot further than identifying similar complex splash patterns at one single glance. This one is definitely a fake, there is absolutely no wiggle room here, not technically there is. But in order to document just how silly it would be to deny any similarities here in more detail, I did take a moment to provide a side-by-side feature comparison.


They use it for official poster banners, they did not apologize for it, and there was no explaining statement.

Instead, they put the poster up big time, and tried to muffle further verbal expressions related to this.

From Newswire Canada:

(C) Copyright IPC Swimming

CPC - The world's greatest paralympic swimmers

From Front Page News: there, in front of a poster with the same fake amputee fly swimmer, are posing "the dignitaries" (mostly with two arms, not photo-shopped themselves) (why not?) (too close to home?), apparently from a presentation around July 9th 2013:

(C) Copyright IPC Swimming


That is not really an image one wishes to pose in front of.

From IPC Swimming [facebook]:

(C) Copyright IPC Swimming


(C) Copyright IPC Swimming


This has rather serious implications.

The IPC depicts a fake amputee swimmer.

Not a real athlete.

And they then take steps to actively delete factual comments about it. Twice, I told them on their Facebook page. Twice, my contributions were deleted by IPC Swimming.  That makes one wonder what people they are. No sportsman does that. To fake amputee images, and attempt to cover up their tracks.  They did not apologize. They did not issue any thank you note.


There is no technical need to resort to fake photos when advertising for handicapped swimming. It is also quite possible to show a decent arm amputee swimming butterfly photo. Take this example (below): this is me, racing fly. An authentic photo, shot by a professional photographer about two years ago.


Not only do I have a sharp eye (recent example: I immediately recognized that the IPC uses a fake amputee image). Far more importantly, my muscles have better definition than that cheaply photo-shopped and faked poster boy has (don't we take pride in that). My own example simply illustrates that it is absolutely no problem at all, to, within a quarter of an hour or so, take a decent photo of a person with a handicap swimming in the water. Just go there with a few chaps, have them go at it, cliq cliq cliq and Bob's your uncle. And there are far, far, far more capable athletes attending that competition in Montreal than I am! These are the ones that ought to be photographed and presented proudly and with all glory!

The choice of that image sends a very wrong message, it is very wrong. This is not the way to promote anything, leave alone swimming for people with disabilities. Seriously, this is deeply offensive.

Now, here is what I wonder. How much did the IPC pay for getting that image butchered?

keywords #IPC  IPC sponsoring IPC advertising IPC swimming IPC banner IPC image athlete fake faked IPC strategy IPC thinking behind representation

Cite this article:
Wolf Schweitzer: Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - IPC swimming uses a photo-shopped fake amputee image for official championship poster [they should not have done that]; published 05/08/2013, 17:42; URL: https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=1851.

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1603998258, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - IPC swimming uses a photo-shopped fake amputee image for official championship poster [they should not have done that]}}, month = {August},year = {2013}, url = {https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=1851}}

2 thoughts on “IPC swimming uses a photo-shopped fake amputee image for official championship poster [they should not have done that]

  1. This image for the Montreal 2013 IPC Swimming World Championships was produced by the Local Organising Committee for the event and not IPC Swimming. We only became aware of the fact that the image had been photo-shopped on Friday when the original image was posted to our Facebook group.

    IPC Swimming immediately raised our concerns and disappointment with the Local Organising Committee as there are hundreds of thousands of sensational images of para-swimmers in action which they could and should have used.

    We are awaiting their answers.

    1. Yes. I was the person that had posted that original image on your Facebook group. The first time on August 2nd. It was deleted there, by your Facebook IPC Swimming group administrators, and after I re-posted it, it was deleted again by your Facebook IPC Swimming group administrators. So you went out of your way to delete these facts, twice.

      Then, I was blocked from your Facebook group because I voiced above stated criticism. No company or association does that without actual need, and your after-critique behavior raises disturbing questions that are beyond this blog entry to deal with. They make you (and not some local IPC people) responsible and it appears that you fully embrace their behavior, and oppose me showing this.

      Your actions are extremely offensive. You probably paid to get the image edited. Sure you will want to find a scapegoat - but: your "IPC Swimming" name is on it, and you use/d this for representation as is proven by several images (above).

      It also has now come to be 2016, far than two years after the fact, and no "explanation" that makes sense and is totally cool to go with has been brought forward. This is very, very pitiful.

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