Two is better than one: Ironman and ITU sign a historic agreement

ITU and IRONMAN have signed a new framework to develop triathlon and engineer the future of the sport. This move comes almost exactly one year after IRONMAN acquired Lagardère Sport’s endurance division when five ITU triathlons, four marathons and numerous cycling events were moved under the IRONMAN umbrella.

After a meeting between ITU President and IOC Member Marisol Casado and IRONMAN President and CEO Andrew Messick, a memorandum of understanding was signed to create the next steps towards harmonisation of the sport. Essentially, they chatted about anti-doping, national federations relations, sanctioning and a single-set of rules, plus some marketing efforts.

What does the new agreement mean for age groupers?

If you’re an age grouper, the new agreement will mean more energy and effort spent to make your triathlon experiences the very best possible. Both ITU and IRONMAN will be focusing their time on keeping age groupers safe during races, encouraging more women in triathlon and supporting first timers. Essentially, triathlon will be become a much friendlier, nurturing place for age groupers, who make up over 90% of the athletes in international events.

Here are some key points from the new agreement:

  • ITU & IRONMAN will be working towards a single set of rules (ITU Competition Rules) for long-distance triathlon beginning in 2018
  • Developing an athlete-focused edition of those rules with specific distance categories
  • Harmonising anti-doping efforts to continue to protect clean athletes and the integrity of the sport
  • The ITU sanctioning select IRONMAN® events as international events
  • The ITU leading coordination and communication with its member National Federations to implement standardised rules and reinforce the ITU’s “Clean, Fair & Safe” mandate.

“The best way to grow triathlon, and improve the sport at all levels, is to do so together,” said Casado.

Continuing strong collaboration with IRONMAN will serve to further evolve triathlon across the world. I look forward to many more fruitful meetings, and creating the best possible environments for athletes, following this cornerstone moment.

ITU and IRONMAN weren’t always friendly

The move could be seen as a further effort to mend relationships between ITU and IRONMAN which have been fractured in the past. ITU’s Casado and IRONMAN’s Messick are friendly, which we know from the new agreement. However, the predecessors; Les McDonald (ITU) and Ben Fertic (IRONMAN) were quite the opposite. In fact, says ITU sued IRONMAN twice and lost twice, in an effort to keep IRONMAN from declaring its races world championships. “In an act of defiance Mr. McDonald forced through a resolution in the ITU’s worldwide Congress expelling Ironman from its governance,” said Luckily, the sport is under much more affable guidance and the recent Memorandum is evidence of this.

“Our collaboration with the ITU is of considerable importance for the prolonged and continuous growth of triathlon,” said Messick. “We share a common goal, have worked well together in recent years, and have developed trust in the ITU leadership group. I believe that the productive conversations that led to this milestone are pivotal for the continued progression of triathlon.”

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