On Wednesday 27th October WTC launched the Ironman Access programme, what followed was a storm of protest from professional and age group athletes across facebook, twitter and forum sites such as “Transitions” in Australia. Today in an embarrassing back down WTC have withdrawn the programme and will refund the monies to anyone who had joined. It remains to be seen what long term damage has been done to the reputation of the brand.
Under the scheme individuals could pay $1,000 (US) to be able to enter Ironman events one week before non Access members. There were also to be other benefits including an official membership ID card; a second chance in the Ironman Lottery Program*; two VIP passes per registered event; a one-year subscription to LAVA Magazine; discounts on Ironman partner products at shopironman.com and at Ironman’s on-site event retail stores; and a 2010 Ford Ironman World Championship NBC broadcast DVD.
In a video address WTC President & CEO Ben Fertic explained that the scheme had been designed to combat athletes entering multiple events and not taking up their places, thus reducing the slots available for other athletes. however he acknowledged that the perception of their market was not favourable to the scheme and so it was being withdrawn.