COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 13, 2005) – Citing the importance of athlete safety and a fair playing field, USA Triathlon has announced that it will no longer sanction events owned by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) or Ironman North America (IMNA).The move comes in reaction to WTC's desire to establish a global rule book for its races that is not in compliance with USA Triathlon's rules. "We believe our rules provide the safest races and the fairest competition," said Skip Gilbert, executive director of USA Triathlon. "The WTC's new rules would not meet USAT's strict requirements for safety. We cannot insure races that do not follow those parameters. That could jeopardize the 1,500 races we sanction and our 58,000 annual members as a whole."The USAT Competitive Rules were written to provide athletes safety and overall fairness in competition. They also provide each athlete maximum protection from unfair or arbitrary penalties. Every violation an official calls in a race is intensively reviewed by the senior referee and penalties are assessed after the review. Athletes have a right to discuss and appeal calls that may be unfair. The WTC has asked that an exception be granted to this procedure to allow real-time stand-down (on-course) penalties for age group triathletes. This exception would remove all review, due process, and rights of appeal and put the final decision in the hands of one official. Stopping a motorcycle in traffic could also endanger both the athletes and the official."This is truly a sad day for us," Gilbert said. "In the grand scheme of things, triathlon is a small sport and we need unity, not division."WTC has said that it has 50,000 athletes who compete globally. USA Triathlon embraces more than 200,000 one-day and annual members."We are a non-profit sport national governing body and this decision will cost us significant membership revenue," Gilbert said. "But our priority must be to put our athletes and race directors first, not the impact to our bottom line."The USA Triathlon Board of Directors has given its unanimous support to the decision."Skip provided the Board with two strong options; one a compromise, and the other a removal of the sanction," said Brad Davison, president of the USA Triathlon Board of Directors. "In a conference call last Wednesday (June 8), Skip recommended the latter course of action and, based on a number of factors, the Board gave its unanimous approval."This decision means that athletes who compete in WTC or IMNA-owned races will not be afforded any of the benefits that would be available at a USA Triathlon sanctioned event, to include national ranking, and qualification for national and world championships.Moreover, Gilbert called on the WTC and IMNA to refund to the athletes any money it has already received on behalf of USA Triathlon for one-day licenses.However, Gilbert did not close the door on a relationship with WTC down the line."If they want to come back to the table and work with us, we would love to help them establish a global rulebook that would make everyone happy."USA Triathlon is the national governing body for triathlon, duathlon, aquathlon and winter triathlon in the United States. For more information on this and other stories related to USA Triathlon, please contact communications and media relations manager B.J. Evans at 719-597-9090, ext. 105 or at [email protected]. USA Triathlon’s web site is www.usatriathlon.org.