Olympic tattoo
Canada's Ryan Cochrane sports a tattoo of the Olympic rings on his back. Athletes are required to cover up all forms of "body advertising"REUTERS/Issei Kato

British Paralympic swimmer Josef Craig was disqualified from a race at the International Paralympic Committee's (IPC) European Championships in Madeira because he did not cover up his Olympic rings tattoo. According to the IPC, leaving his tattoo uncovered was a breach of regulations related to advertising.

The 19-year-old from Jarrow in England, who has the tattoo on the left side of his chest, was allowed to take part in the first heat of the men's S8 100 metres, but was later prevented from competing in the final round.

"Body advertising is not allowed in any way whatsoever and that includes the Olympic rings. The athlete did not wear a cover and was therefore disqualified," the Guardian reported an IPC spokesman as saying. "All teams are informed of the advertising policy at a technical meeting prior to competition so it wasn't as if they had not been reminded about the rules."

The rings are described as the "exclusive property of the International Olympic Committee" and are therefore a protected mark that cannot be used without the IOC's prior consent.

Craig, who suffers from cerebral palsy, won his heat in the S8 100m freestyle before being disqualified and after covering up his tattoo, qualified third fastest for the 400m freestyle. He will go on to compete in the 50m and 400m events later this week.

The young swimmer won two gold medals at the 2012 London Paralympic Games at the age of 15 and went on to set two world records. Other famous Olympian swimmers with tattoos of the five rings include Canadian Julia Wilkinson, American swimmer and Olympic legend Michael Phelps, Australia's Stephanie Rice and Tamas Varga of Hungary.