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On April 25, 2012, world class athlete Aaron Scheidies, a visually impaired competitor in sanctioned triathlons, filed suit against USA Triathlon, International Triathlon Union and 3-D Racing LLC to stop the organizations from enforcing discriminatory and dangerous race requirements for blind and visually impaired participants.
In new rules imposed by the group, blind and visually impaired participants are required to wear “black out glasses” for the duration of the competition, which eliminates any residual vision a participant may have to compete. This loss of even limited vision poses a significant physical danger to the participant, as well as to other competitors. Refusal by any blind or visually impaired competitor to wear the black out glasses, despite the danger, results in disqualification from the race. This includes the June 17th Motor City Triathlon on Belle Isle.
Scheidies is a seven-time World Champion and an eight-time triathlon National Champion, competing in more than 200 triathlons. He also has successfully completed the Ironman Competition, which requires a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and full marathon (26.2 miles). Scheidies earned a doctorate from the University of Washington in physical therapy and holds a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University in kinesiology (study of body movement).
Attorney Richard Bernstein, of the Sam Bernstein Law Firm in Farmington Hills, is representing Scheidies in his lawsuit, which was filed in United States District Court in Detroit. The suit seeks to bring an end to the triathlon groups’ failure to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act by requesting the court bar them from enforcing the blackout glasses requirements.
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