Alistair Brownlee was disqualified in today’s WTCS Leeds after being penalised by officials for unsportsmanlike behaviour when broadcast footage showed him appearing to ‘dunk’ USA’s Chase McQueen during the 1,500m swim in Roundhay Park.
Interviewed immediately after the race, Brownlee told the BBC. “It was a really tough day, and I only knew I was disqualified on the last lap, so it was a bitter end to it. My coach told me while I was on the run – I had no idea up until then.
“I’ve seen the video since, but in the middle of a swim anything can happen, and I can guarantee that as bad was done to me 10sec before and 10sec after. But it’s a subjective field-of-play decision and that is what it is.”
It’s not the first time Brownlee has been disqualified for an incident in the swim. He was also DQd in the World Triathlon Series Grand Final in 2018 in Gold Coast after he was adjudged to have undercut a turn-buoy.
While he continued to complete the race in Leeds, it may be a sorry end to the short course career of the London 2012 and Rio 2016 winner and two-time World Triathlon world champion.
“I’m pretty sure that will be my last World Series race,” he added “I’ve really struggled over the last three-to-four months with an injury and needed a bit of a miracle today. I’ve done everything I can, trained as hard as I can, had the best support team and medical treatment. I needed a bit of luck and didn’t get it.
“It’s bitter-sweet. Over the last three months I’ve asked myself why I’m still trying to go to the Olympics. But as a friend pointed out: ‘That’s the beauty of the Olympics!’ I could have walked away and done long distance triathlon and retired, but I’m here because I love it and I’m trying to compete and wanted one more spin of the dice. It didn’t work out, but on the other hand I’m thankful I’ve had lots of great races here.”
His brother Jonny, finished ninth and defended Alistair over the altercation in the water.
“The swim was absolutely awful,” he explained. “There are too many good swimmers and we’re not swimming fast enough. It’s not swimming, it’s fighting, you just end up next to each other catching arms. I knew after the first lap that it wasn’t splitting up at all and it would be a big pack.
“I know he [Alistair] wouldn’t mean to do anything. When the swims are like that you end up catching arms anyway. To be honest with you that’s what happens pretty much every stroke, it’s just what gets captured on camera.”
Tom Bishop finished 16th in Leeds meaning the chances of a third Olympic spot for the British men’s team look remote.
With Jonny Brownlee already named on the team, Alex Yee’s victory in Leeds further cements his claims for the second berth – which would signal the end of Alistair Brownlee’s Olympic dreams.
However, there is one final chance for Bishop to accrue the qualification points required in Mexico next weekend.