Yesterday’s Thoughts

June 15, 2005

Differences Between GTG and USAT Rules

USA Triathlon and Ironman North America have announced that they are splitting. USA Triathlon (USAT) won’t insure Ironman North America (IMNA) races, or give points to age group athletes for their particiapation in those races. IMNA will require that athletes purchase individual insurance for participation in races. Annual USAT memberships will be accepted for IMNA races through the end of the year.

USAT says that the reason for the split was, “in reaction to WTC’s desire to establish a global rule book for its races that is not in compliance with USA Triathlon’s rules.” WTC, (World Triathlon Corporation) is the parent of IMNA. IMNA says that the move was “an effort to improve existing standards and race-related guidelines.”

WTC is forming a new governing body, the Global Tri Group, Inc. (GTG) to “enhance events worldwide by standardizing rules/regulations, providing insurance assistance and designing programs to implement drug-testing worldwide.”

I sat down to spend five minutes looking at the new GTG rules. It went a little longer than that, and I had to look pretty closely. The rules differences are pretty small in my opinion.

The GTG rules were adapted from the USAT rules. The major difference, GTG makes fewer distinctions between elite and age-group athletes than USAT. The differences between the two sets of rules are summarized in the table below. I didn’t do a line by line comparison, and I pretty much ignored the appeals process and more administrative functions so there may be additional differences. These are mostly race day rules differences.

Area of Difference GTG USAT
Scope Rules cover 1/2 and Full Ironman
Penalty times do not depend on distance
Rules cover all distances
Penalties depend on distance
Time Penalties, Elite 4′ for 1st and 2nd infractions, DQ for 3rd 1/2 – 2′ for 1st, DQ for 2nd
Full – 4′ for 1st, DQ for 2nd
Time Penalties, Age Group 4′ for 1st and 2nd infractions, DQ for 3rd
Penalty marking and stand-down penalties
These are the same as elite rules.
1/2 – 4′ for 1st, 8′ for 2nd, DQ for 3rd
Full – 6′ for 1st, 12′ for 2nd, DQ for 3rd
No penalty marking or stand-down penalties
Swim No snorkels Snorkels not prohibited
Bike Draft zone, 8×2 m for all
20″ to overtake
Draft zone, 10×2 for elite, 7×2 m for AG
15″ to overtake
Staggering required for elites
Run Crawling permitted No crawling (DQ)
Had been a WTC exception until recently
Doping WADA rules ITU, USOC, IOC and USADA rules
Physically Challenged Athletes No special rules for PC athletes Rule modifications for PC athletes

Some of the differences are my interpretations based on the failure of one set of rules to mention a specific, e.g. USAT doesn’t mention stand-down penalties or penalty marking for age group athletes.

There may also be implementation differences. For instance, there was a racer last year (at the Disney Half?) who was penalized for running without a shirt. This might have been a course specific rule, or it might have been an interpretation of a USAT rule or some such. I don’t see this mentioned specifically in the rules, though, and my understanding is that this is permitted in WTC races, at least in some places.

It would be interesting to have an official’s point of view on these differences, but my take is that they are so insignificant as to throw into doubt the assertions of both USAT and GTG that the reasons for the split were to either “provide the safest races and the fairest competition,” or “enhance events worldwide by standardizing rules/regulations.”

Interesting non-difference: these new GTG rules will prohibit nudity in transition worldwide. I believe this will be a change for Ironman races in other countries. Perhaps that is the standardization that they are talking about.

2 Comment(s)

  1. Josh | Jun 24, 2005 | Reply

    I googled for this exact topic just now after coming from the welcome dinner at CDA (2005) just now. I had heard about the split in rules but i hadn’t realized all the ramifications and that this new group GTG was formed. I’m still fuzzy on exactly where the problems are. What are the negatives the USAT folks are claiming from this?

    It’s scary to me that a race promotion group can outgrow (and organize) the governing body itself. What are the affects of this on all other races both big and small? What are the affects on the sport itself? Hmmm….

  2. Ray Baxter | Jun 25, 2005 | Reply

    Hi Josh,

    When I looked into this a few weeks ago, the only thing that the USAT was saying that was specific was that having racers stand down on the course was a safety hazard.

    Slowtwitch.com has had a number of articles on the subject since then, and they add that the USAT believes that that having riders serve time penalties on the course removes the athletes right to due process. Since the only penalty that they seem to be talking about is drafting, I don’t think this is really relevant. I suppose you can appeal a drafting penalty, but I wouldn’t think that you would ever win on appeal. Maybe I’m wrong.

    Anyway, good luck in Coeur d’Alene tomorrow. Have a great race.

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