10 ways to get disqualified in a triathlon

It’s scary to consider how many ways you can receive the dreaded DQ in triathlon. Here and Ironman certified coach Phil Jarvis points out 10 ways your race could end rather faster than you’d hoped…

6. Doping

The curse of endurance sports, cycling, athletics and swimming have all had high profiles scandals over the years.  All major race organisers should undertake post-race testing for the professionals, and there have been isolated incidents of age-groupers being caught too. Quite how big the problem among amateurs, no-one is quite sure, but it is a worrying facet of our sport. In recent times ‘doping’ has also been prefixed with the word ‘mechanical’. Belgian Femke Van den Driessche was caught with a motor hidden on her bike at this year’s Under-23 world cyclocross championship. It goes without saying these offences result in an instant DQ… followed by a hefty ban.

7. Falsifying data

Triathlon prides itself on fierce age-group competition meaning there is always something to shoot for whatever stage you’ve reached in life. So putting down the wrong date of birth on an entry form to sneak into an older or younger division, could have grave consequences. This clearly relies on a little self-policing, but if someone who is yet to have a wet shave cleans up in the male 65-69 age-group with a sub-9 hour Ironman, it’s likely a few questions will be asked.

8. Too many penalties

Penalties can be picked up for a variety of reason: drafting, blocking, littering, not having the requisite number of safety pins on your number (yes, this does happen in France), but pick up too many cautions and your day is done. Drafting is a contentious issue, but while one transgression might be at best clumsy, there will be much less sympathy if you are shown a card on multiple occasions. If you receive penalties, make sure you take them in the designated spot – usually a tent serves as the sin-bin. In some races littering may also be a straight red card, as organisers cannot afford to fall out with the local authorities and residents.

9. Outside assistance

Was Ali Brownlee right to help brother Jonny over the line in Cozumel? Should Chrissie Wellington have accepted a CO2 canister from Rebekah Keat in Kona? The laws on outside assistance have long been debated, but what is clear is that you cannot – or at least, should not – receive help from anyone outside the race. In both the cases outlined, the supporting athletes were competing. If your loved ones start pushing you way up a nasty incline on the bike, then it’s over stepping the line. A footnote to this is that while you should not receive help, there might be situations where the organisers aren’t so strict. If a frozen triathlete cannot change a puncture in order to finish his or her race for charity – and is not going to trouble the leaderboard – most officials will turn a blind eye.

10. No tie

While the Brownlees might have finished hand-in-hand in Blenheim and Abu Dhabi they have been warned off in no uncertain circumstances by the ITU for the World Series, where any contrived tie will result in an instant DQ. Thankfully, or sadly, as the case may be, it’s not a situation many of us ever find ourselves in. But if you do, take the opportunity for a rare sprint finish rather than a waltz to the line.


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