I just noticed your post.
I hope that the referee your referenced was not a USA certified official! First, we are not to speak to athletes on the course. The protocol is to witness the infraction, take copious notes describing the location, athletes, and situation and move along. Those notes are presented to the head referee prior to the posting of the officials results. The head referee determines the validity of the infraction and either dismisses it or applies the appropriate penalty that is then presented to the timer.
The event may have been USA sectioned but the referee may have been local non-certified individuals. If so, I prefer that the RD not bring in non-certified individuals because incidents such as yours taint all USA certified referees. Just for the record, USA certified referees have distinctive apparel clearly indicating that they are USA referees. The head referee wears a black stripe referee shirt. Also, in most cases they are allowed to address the athletes at a pre-race meeting.
Thanks for your thoughtful reply. What I noticed when I was pouring through old magazines - dating back to 1987 - is that drafting has been an issue for at least that long. If people in all sports :
1) knew the rules,
2) followed the rules
then there would be no need for officials.
Some people are simply cheaters. As our sport grows, we are victims of our own success - more racers, too many racers on the course at any one given time, not enough officials to cover 25 to 100 miles of continuous motion, prizes, prestige, qualifying slots, podium spots, etc. Drafting was a problem in 1987 and it remains a problem today. I don't know what the answer is, but I do believe that few (if any?) triathlons with 500+ people are truely non-drafting events. Right now, it appears the solution is "to do the best we can" to enforce rules that are virtually unenforceable due to a number of reasons. I think we need to figure out some creative solutions or just give up trying to enforce the non-drafting rule on a small percentage of the playing field.
Jose, If all officials, board directors, regional directors, anyone else that is making decisions for the quality and intergrity of what is USTA , had the goals and drive like you to make this sport like it should be, would make a tremendous difference in bringing back the fun and excitment of what triathlon is all about. I elect you for the next president of USTA. Anyone else agree?
My goodness, thank you for the huge complement!
I have actually considered running for the USAT Board of Directors but while Celeste Callahan elects to remain on the board representing our region, I will differ to her. She has truly devoted herself to our sport and particularly to engaging women. In the interim, I will continue to serve as a referee because there are many athletes like you with respect for our sport and personal integrity that deserve a fair an event as possible.
You bring up a proposition that has long standing, Is it realistic to control drafting? I posit that it depends, as you stated, on numerous variables, some controllable and others not. The integrity of the athlete is, in my view, an uncontrollable variable, but the design of the course, swim wave size, field size, are some controllable variables and may affect the incidences of drafting. However, the reality for most events is that they are govern by local governmental and/or geographical restrictions for the course and also a business need to have a "profitable event". Those directly govern the course layout, how long the roads may be controlled, etc. There is also the pressure from athletes to register for higher profile events that drives the size of the field.
I must believe in the ability of good USAT certified officials to make a difference otherwise i could not continue to officiate. Realistically, I realize that often we are not able to oversee an event as well as we should because of resources, number of officials, number of motorcycles, etc. However, I prefer to make an attempt rather than consider the problem unsolvable. I know many USAT certified officials that feel the same way.
I go back to a very important point, the athletes have a great deal of influence on the fairness of the event by knowing and adhering to the competitive rules. I have experienced where an athlete gets on the podium and their is evidence that they had an unfair advantage, just not witnessed by and official at the event. But, I witnessed their unfair tactics as an athlete sharing the course with them. What I do not understand is how that athlete could take the award!
I agree with triech - thanks for being one of the folks that is pushing to make a difference.
As for officials, I feel really bad for the ones that try to referee a fair race only to be abused by some of the racers. Race officiating is not a glamorous, easy job.
The athletes do have a good deal of influence in many areas: wallet (by not entering races that are notoriously unfair), knowing the rules, encouraging others to know the rules, offering suggestions to the race director to improve the course (layout, staging, etc.), and probably more.
If people really want non-drafting racing, they need to keep pushing for it...
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