Monday, November 19, 2007

Cheating - Triathlon's Next Hot Topic

We who race clean know some of the folks who cheat by sight. We know some by name, country or team. There are certain folks/groups we see at local races, regional races and the major international races but they are always at every race. This used to really bother me but it doesn't anymore. Why? I know that whatever awards and recognition they get they didn't completely earn.

Drafters, course cutters, the people using flippers in the darker, murky water - the easy ones to spot. These are hard to catch...easy to spot. Look at some of the pictures in the big triathlon magazines from Kona or Clearwater. Sure, these are just still pictures and perhaps seeing things live would change my opinion...but I doubt it. In the latest Inside Triathlon, I wrote the bibs of the guys in the picture and looked at their splits. It was an interesting investment of time.

Look at some of the age group splits from Clearwater - the 70.3 Championship. (Thankfully...I was on vacation after "failing" to qualify this year in my one qualifying race.) In one of the women's age groups the top two women biked insanely fast times - should I a) be congratulating them on awesome cycling or b) calling them out for drafting or worse (course cutting or doping)? In this particular age group their bike times would have easily thumped the women considerably younger than them. Their times were only ~23 minutes slower than the top overall bike time of the race... I don't know them personally and I wasn't there. Maybe they raced clean...maybe they didn't. When you know the reputation of the race for drafting and you see their swim and run times compared to the bike it makes me think something is fishy. Look at the other age groups...this story repeats. One of these gals I have witnessed drafting in the 2006 version of the 70.3 Championship as she went past me immersed in a giant group of men; but that doesn't mean she did it again in the 2007 race. Or does it? She is a well known Ironman "champion". Well known by me for drafting in a lot of races where I've seen her.

So what do we/I do about this?

1) Bitch and moan? (see a triathlon forum for that) Nah...seems like a waste of breath.

2) Talk to NAS/WTC officials and offer suggestions - Yep.

3) Volunteer to officiate whenever possible - Yep.

4) Train like hell in order to beat the cheaters - Yep.

5) Race matter what - Yep.

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