“To get medals ... all you’ve got to do is lie a little bit.” On Tuesday, three athletes and the BBC damned Paralympic classification like never before, with a Radio 4 programme investigating concerns about the system and whether some competitors have exaggerated their disabilities to boost their chance of winning.

In a classification, all disabilities are equal but some disabilities are more equal than others. “Oh, if only I had one leg instead of two paralysed ones”, … “if only I had been hit by a car at 20 and not starved of oxygen at birth”. The disabilities to die for.

To mention your own place in a classification system to the media, revealing the levels within, is very taboo. The BBC did not quote any of the athletes talking about themselves, only other competitors. Helmets off to you for starting the discussion.

I have inside, outside and back to front experience of classification, having competed in two sports. The first was in RaceRunning, where you use your legs to run but have the support of a wheeled frame round your body. However, in the process of qualifying for Great Britain’s cycling team I had to give that up for one in Paracycling, where you use either arms or legs to push pedals. As a RaceRunner, I was on the uppermost edge of my classification. Although I had cerebral palsy like everyone else, if I turned up at a world event, it was almost certain I would get gold.

Lots of athletes will never admit this, so afraid are they that the statement somehow invalidates their blood, sweat and tears. It does not. It just allows the ones they beat to have done exactly the same amount of work, to be valid members of an athletic field, incredible competitors whose attitude to failure and sporting spirit and passion have to be more resilient. They have to shine without the reflected light of medals, using a light from within instead.

British T37 200m sprinter Bethany Woodward returned a relay medal because she felt the inclusion of one runner was “giving the team an unfair advantage”.

I also wanted to give away my own medals as soon as I had won them. Yet, so badly did I need to be an athlete, to work hard, to race, to test my human ability that I did not.

In RaceRunning, because it isn’t a Paralympic sport yet, there is no funding or prize money. I wasn’t racing to fulfil my governing body’s medal quota and to get paid. I needed the athletics track beneath my feet every day just to feel like myself. Two years on, there are now competitors in my field who challenge my world records every time they race – I would no longer be seen as the outlier. The people I beat then are still there now, further forward in training and further back from winning.

The fact is, in the more disabled classifications, the only way you can get enough competitors to have a race is by including a range of very diverse impairments.

I read an article in which a sports psychologist said: “For every Usain Bolt we have many who will win once or twice only. It is why we watch … ”.

This was in reference to Caster Semenya’s race at the World Championships and Canadian Melissa Bishop’s comment that if she is up against Caster, a race in unwinnable for her. She must have the “perfect race” to get a look in. Like Melissa, I am now one of those athletes. I am fully behind Caster as she has overcome many a hardship, including having her medical history on show to everyone. Similarly, I am fully behind the world champion of my Paracycling event. Of course, I was also behind myself, winning golds in RaceRunning. I was behind Usain Bolt with his genetically advantageous stride length and swimmer Michael Phelps with his mutant wing-span.

It is important to acknowledge classification privilege, and talk about it, especially for the organisations that provide funding so all athletes can be supported, even the ones that need the perfect race.

Before being classified, “better” disabilities are favoured, with athletes fast-tracked and funded. I have not heard of any “classification doping” going on. However, it is easier for governing bodies to drop the individuals in the disadvantageous classifications and keep the lucky one who fits naturally just within the lines. You only need a few – in many cases one athlete can win you three gold medals.

I have seen individuals who are new to the sport being given all the kit and funding and sent straight to an international race to be classified, only to be dropped soon after, because they were no longer in an advantageous classification.

There was a time where every disability had its own classification which was ridiculous. The worn-out classifiers and the clever people who created the system masterminded

a new one, which I support, whereby most athletes have intense competition, immense battles to test their mettle, facing defeat and racing again. The only people who lose out are the few who have only ever won.

My moment in cycling, in its rarity will be even more incredible for me. Every trike gets its day. I believe in that day, though I keep coming fourth. Whatever my classification or funds, I need my racing like I need air. This forces me to examine every inch of my life. I am an intrepid explorer into the truth of my being as an athlete, learning about every aspect of sport, leaving no training session unturned, a position from which I can only get stronger in every way.