Gale, Do you have the answer or anyone else at why USTA does not mandate race directors to have CERTIFIED draft marshalls or you will not be Sanctioned? I thought I might get a clear answer from my earlier post. Yes race directors hire draft marshalls, one post indicated that the draft marshalls hired where the ones turning a blind eye on drafting and it was not the R.D. fault. I do not agree. If you are a R. D. and your draft marshalls are not enforcing the rules then they need to be reprimanded, friend or no friend. It is the R.D. responsibility that the marshalls are doing there job. The time one puts in to get his certification to be a draft marshall, plus the time he alots out of his family schdule to marshall at a race, why should he deliberately not enforce the draft rules? Hey, he is also getting paid to do this job.
I've had triathletes draft me in non-drafting events. There were two people drafting me and the referees on a motorbike came up to them, behind me, and reiterated that there was not drafting. The two who were clearly drafting both mad comments back to the referees to the effect that they were not doing so. Not only were they cheaters they were also liars. Neither cheater/liar was penalized. I realize that it was only a sprint race but fair is fair, and that wasn't at all fair to all the athletes who completed the race honestly and with complete integrity.
Hi, I'm very new to Tri, interesting thread. Would a lower tech draft wazrning aid be of any use? I'm thinking of a laser pointer attached to the front of a bike which points at the road at set distance ahead...assuming it's visible in sunlight it'd be a pretty clear real-time indicator to the drafter that he was too close, give the marshalls measured evidence of an infraction, give draftees a warning about someone getting a tow. For a couple of bucks. Just a thought...
Let me see if I can get someone to comment about mandating certified draft marshals.
Ha ha thats an awesome suggestion, but I could see me now, "there's the dot, catch the dot, see the dot, where's the road? Oh ****! There's a tree!" Ha ha so on and so forth! But seriously a good idea, but just one more thing WE would have to buy, maintain and adjust!!
This response is based on nearly 20 years of officiating USAT age group and pro events, and lately ITU pro draft legal events, and not the opinion of USAT.
I read the comments and must question the qualifications of the referee that "chatted" with the athletes on the course. A certified USAT Official would NOT care on a conversation during competition. They either see an infraction and note it for review prior to posting the final results by the head referee or continue monitoring the course without engaging in a conversation. Please note that a penalty can only be applied by the head referee after discussing an infraction with the official that noted it. The head referee has the ability to dismiss an infraction should the evidence presented not be strong enought to justify a penalty. Also, USAT certified officials should be wearing distinctive apparel that would identify them as such. There is a possibility that the event was being officiated by uncertified local individuals.
In regards to the salient question, my comments below. but there is no one complete answer.
A USAT sanctioned event is not required to have officials unless they are championship events. Those that do sometimes do not request enough officials and/or have enought motorcycles for officials to monitor the bike course. The issue comes down to the willingness and ability of the director to pay for the appropriate number of officials and provide sufficient motorcycles. There is also the reality that some races place more athletes on the course simultaneously than the course can accommodate without the potential for "pack riding". Even the number and time between swim wave starts can cause problems on the bike course. Then, there are those athletes that are willing to cheat. Very hard to address the cheaters without sufficient officials. Lastly, there are far too many athletes that just don't know the rules.Thus, it honestly is an issue that has several potential causes for drafting or pack riding. Clearly, the ideal scenario would have knowledage athletes, sufficient certified officials, sufficient motorcycles, a course designed to accommodate the number of athletes, athletes unwilling to cheat, and ability and willingness of directors to fund sufficient officials.There is also the reality that, in my opinion, USAT is attempting to grow the sanctioned events. Forcing the "average" race to have official may cause the event not to sanction to reduce that cost. Sanction events also tend to bring in new membership applications as well. However, with sanction there is insurance and other valuable resources for the race director. Therefore, most sanction for those benefits and avoid the officiating expense.
Lastly, I can't envision the average age grouper in a draft legal format. I, for one, would be very uneasy in a pack with athletes who's skills set on the bike are unknown. I see the affects of an individual falling on their own, which is bad enough. We can all relate to falls in a pack or high speed turns in the mist of a pack
Thanks for your comments. I can see several areas that can cause drafting problems.
Jose, thanks for posting this reply. After reading this, correct me if I am wrong, USTA is operating like a business. They want everyone santioned in order to make money. As a race director you pay for the insurance and USTA hopes you sign up at the race athletes for a full year membership. I understand this point but still have a bad problem with not mandating the R.D. to have certified draft marshalls. Have been racing tris for over two decades, many small sprint tris, that did not have a certified drat marshall, just "uncerified individuals" on the course, many people left home unhappy because the drafting rules were not being enforced. After all these years it would seem USTA would have a formula. Ex.=one draft marshall for every 100 participant. USTA might be increasing membership, but there are alot of small tris that have been hurting for participants the last few years (blame it on the gas prices?), I think the drafting problem is a big culprit. I myself will think twice about doing a tri without a certified draft marshll. Races that had C draft marshalls strictly enforcing the rules was fun. Happy that someone with your experience has addresed this issue.
I begin my response by restating that I am presenting my opinion based as an official, participant, and member of boards for many years.
I believe that USAT has a strong business component by design and need. Other national governing bodies do as well. Memberships and event sanctions are components of the "business". What cannot be disputed is the outstanding growth of USAT, the exposure of triathlons to the "mainstream", increased awareness of its professionals, and its potential for becoming a sanctioned sports collegiately.All positive items. However, you focused on a legitimate issue in our sport that is caused, in my view, by several factors.
Particularly small events are generally organized by local organizations or race directors that are not attempting to "make a living" from the event but to raise money for charity and/or provide the community with a triathlon. They generally want to keep entry fees low and offer a venue for new athletes to become engaged in the sport. Clearly, all good objectives. However, without sponsorship the entry fees need to cover the costs. Good race directors will not sacrify safety, awards, t-shirts, food, aid stations, in order to afford USAT certified officials. Although USAT does have a scale of officials per athletes registered, as you suggested. I can't blame them for that business decision. Larger, for profit events with sponsorship should have officials in order to maintain a good reputation and attract athletes such as yourself and me. The fact is that some don't elect to do so or to minimize the quantity of officials to reduce expense and increase profit. One way to ensure that is remedies, besides a mandated by USAT, is for us to "vote with our feet and money" by not registering for those events. Frankly, I don't perceive many quality, established, large events taking that tack, however. Generally, it is the local, small event that cannot afford officials but benefits from insurance and logistical assistance from USAT. They do face a hard decision on how to spend the usually limited financial resources available to them. But, let's not forget two very important facts, athlete's integrity and knowledge of the USAT Competitive Rules.
I would hope that all multisport athletes have sufficient integrity and knowledge of the rules to avoid cheating. But, I have know of cheating cases event at very high profile events. Lack of knowledge of the rules is not an excuse but highlights a problem and a blessing with our sport. Complete neophytes may race with competitive age groupers and even pros without any knowledge of the competitive rules by signing up for a one day license. Can you imagine a person playing in a sanctioned softball league without having knowledge of balls or strikes or the pursue for having bases! However, it does allow new people to engage in the sport very easily.
In my opinion, USAT should not mandate certified officials at all sanctioned races because it may cause fewer sanctions and/or undo financial hardship on small local races and/or hardship on athletes because of higher entry fees. I would hope, however, that even the small races attempt to build an official into their budget. Again, if enough "customers" make that a demand, most race directors will attempt to meet the customer expectations. I have not excuse for large events that can afford the cost but elect not to have officials. Again, the customer can do something by not entering and/or expressing their displeasure. The major ones will have officials virtually by default. But, let's not forget athlete integrity and knowledge of the rules in this equation!
Lastly, having been around since Tri-Fed and the tenure of at least three Executive Directors of USAT, I support the direction of the current USAT administration to create a "business" while supporting its core, the age groupers, and increasing the emphasis on youth, collegiate and elites. I believe that it's a symbiotic relationship amongst these groups that will create a viable governing body for the long term.
Another good post, thanks.
Is there any information that comes with a one day license that says something on the order of "Six (or whatever number) things you must know so you don't get penalized":
- Helmet strap rule
- Mount and dismount line
- Description of drafting
- Description of blocking
There is no verbiage on the USAT one day license related to the competitive rules, except to state that they apply and you agree to abide by them. I doubt that 95% of the signees read beyond the signature line. Not a knock on anyone, just a fact when dealing with a long legal form. However, there is a single sheet handout that race directors receive from the head referee that outlines the most common infractions to the rules. Ideally, this sheet is included in the athlete packet for an event. Also, is allowed sufficient time, the head referee will conduct a short session on the rules at pre-race meetings. In events where officials are not in attendance, neither of these may occur.
In regards to pre-race meetings, I can ensure you that not all athletes attend and surprisingly a disproportionate number of neophyte triathletes attend. In addition, it is very difficult in 10 minutes, the usual time allowed, for an official to cover effectively the competitive rules. I no longer attempt to do so but rather focus on a few selected ones and emphasize the purpose of the officials, how penalties are applied, where they are posted, the practical stuff. However, I always clearly state that I am available post race meeting to discuss the rules in details with those interested. I also suggest that athletes go to www.usatriathlon.org and download the rules. Generally, not many takers. Please, although my views reflect many years of experience, they are my experiences and other officials can certainly dispute my observations.
All, the bottom line is that an athlete, particularly a new one to a sport, should take a little time to understand the sport's rules as part of their preparation. Somewhere in the equation is an element of personal responsibility, as well as sportsmanship and integrity.
Roman Mica collects a < a href="http://www.everymantri.com/everyman_triathlon/2008/11/cheating-weasels-stories-of-shame-cheating-at-ironman-florida.html#more" target="_blank">few cheating stories in his blog</a> on the 2008 Ford Ironman Florida. One guy is caught using swim fins! (There's a photo).
Another person recounts being a marshal on the bike course and how rudely some cheaters reacted to him. That experience is backed up by another person who talks about getting caught and then watches peloton after peloton pass by.
Whoa! Using fins is pretty bold.
Looks like IMFL is pretty bad for drafting issues. It looks like they are trying to do a good job but staffing is an issue.
Too bad people were so rude to the marshalls - all of those people should have received a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.
There are probably some violations, or combination of violations, that should give people a two-year (or more) suspension from Ironman events. Maybe any triathlon?
I'm fairly certain that USAT does not keep a list of constant cheaters - but maybe they should?
I thought all of you would be interested in this old column I found in a 1988 Triathlete magazine. How about the athletes self-policing drafting violations?
The information herein provided is my personal opinion based on 19 years of being a USAT certified referee and also International Triathlon Union certified. I have also been a competitive triathlete for over 25 years and involved at the regional and national level with USAT. But, ultimately I do not speak for USAT.
I have not kept up with the thread regarding drafting in triathlon events and the role of officials/referees and RDs. However, the last post seems to suggest that RDs have input into the assignment/hiring of the USAT certified referees. The regional coordinator of officials for the region in which the event takes place assigns the referee(s), not the RD. Also, if the regional coordinator is doing their job correctly, it will request a formal evaluation of the referees from the RD. Note that the head referee for an event also has to send in a formal race report to the regional coordinator and "national" coordinator of officials. If a local RD is hiring his/her own referees, I suggest that they are not USAT certified because a certified referee will loss their certification by "freelancing" as a referee. I have witnessed a marked improvement in the professionalism of certified referees over the years. I know that we police ourselves and identify poor candidates early. I do not know a respectable certified referee that is willing to expect a poor referee in our community because it reflects on each of us.
Another part of the post questioned why USAT does not require events to have referees. I addressed this issue on an earlier post, but it is worth repeating. In my experience and opinion USAT runs a fine line regarding sanctioning events, which provides the opportunity to expose USAT, increase membership, and receive revenues from sanctioning fees and one day licenses and forcing an "extra expense" on the RDs for referees. Please note that the majority of sanctioned events are local events with relatively small number of athletes run in many cases by non-profit seeking entities. Therefore, their operating budges are relatively small. Travel and officiating fees may then be a prohibitive cost to the RD. Granted, large, for profit events with sponsorship, etc. may have less of an excuse regarding absorbing the expenses of referees, but some elect not to maximize profits, a business decision. Thus, it is important not to place all events in the same context and rather judge them individually. USAT only requires referees at regional and championship events that obviously tend to be larger events. Lastly, to effectively marshal an entire triathlon venue, swim, bike and run, requires multiple referees, and the course layout also has a bearing on the number of referees. That translates to additional expenses for the RD. I must acknowledge that there are many quality RDs that still request certified referees although it's a noticeable expense because they believe that it provides a fair "playing field" for the athletes, and I believe it overall does. Again, the course coverage is a consideration.
I also want to emphasize that athletes have an obligation to know the USAT Competitive Rules and abide by them in an event. An athlete with the disposition to cheat will do so regardless of the presence of a referee, at least out of their site. That goes to the ethical behavior and personal restrain. I can attest that many penalties are called on athletes that are not familiar with the competitive rules. It is great that a neophyte can enter a highly competitive triathlon by simply completing and application and one day license, but the down side is exactly that too. We have yet to institute a categorization scheme like cycling where individuals progress through categories based on experience, etc. I am keen on the idea of a novice wave that requires attending an hour triathlon introduction course the day before the event.
As a referee, I appreciate that there is enough passion on this topic to allow a continuing discourse on drafting, sanctioning and associated topics.