Josef Craig swims his way to final after being disqualified over Olympic rings tattoo

Josef Craig with the tattoo that led to his disqualification from an IPC swimming race.
Josef Craig with the tattoo that led to his disqualification from an IPC swimming race.

Josef Craig has reached the final of a European championship race after being sensationally disqualified in a row over his tattoo.

The teenager, from Jarrow, was due to compete in the final of the IPC European Championships S8 100m freestyle, on Sunday, after making it through the first heat.

However, the 19-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, was disqualified from the event after failing to cover up a part of his tattoo, on the left side of his chest, featuring the Olympic rings.

Josef who is competing at the championships in Funchal, Madeira, was eligible to compete today in the S8 400m freestyle after covering his tattoo.

His mum Kim said: “He competed this morning and is in the final tonight at around 7.15pm and I’m really pleased for him.

“He’s covered the tattoo now. It’s taped over and as long as it stays like that he can compete.”

Josef, was catapulted into the sporting spotlight at the age of 15 after smashing two world records on his way to the top of the podium in the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.

Since then, the City of Sunderland swimmer, has gone on to break a number of world records and win medals in competitions across the world.

The Olympic rings are the exclusive property of the International Olympic Committee. They are marked protected around the world and can not be used without the IOC's prior consent.

An IPC spokesman said: “The British swimmer Josef Craig was disqualified on Sunday at the IPC European Championships for breaching the IPC’s rules on body advertisements which are not allowed in any way whatsoever. This includes tattoos and non-IPC symbols, such as the Olympic rings.

“All competing teams were briefed regarding the rules at a technical meeting in Funchal prior to competition starting on Sunday. On Monday the athlete covered the tattoo and was therefore able to compete.”

The blow comes just days after Josef achieved a qualifying time for the Paralympic Games in Rio. He is currently waiting to see if he makes the team.

Reader Lynn Mills said: “I could understand if it was offensive but this is ridiculous.”

Karen Broadhead added: “Will Tom Daley have to cover his too?”

But Darren Jenkins said: “Fair enough the rule is ridiculous, but he was given an opportunity to cover it up.”