Deaths in Triathlon Study Released

Today USA Triathlon (USAT, the national governing body for triathlon) released a study that tries to place into context the deaths in triathlon that have been so visible, and seemingly frequent, over the past two years. The study is heavy with data and concludes with recommendations for athletes, race directors and USAT.

The 5-member panel consisted of 3 doctors and 2 race directors. Taking the lead was Dr. Lawrence Creswell, a cardiac specialist who is also a triathlete. The study looked at every year for which the panel felt there is reliable data, commencing with 2006. During this 6-year span ending with calendar-2011 there were 30 swim-related deaths, and 38 deaths in all.

While, according to the study, deaths in triathlon seem to be in the area of 1 per 75,000 race occurrences—roughly on a par with deaths in marathon runs—deaths as a result of swimming are somewhat lower: about 1 per 90,000 using this data.

However, this is not precisely true. The data was generated using as a “race occurrence” everything that USAT sanctions. This totaled 537,317 participant occurrences in 2011, taking place at 4,334 events. There are not that many triathlons in America. Some of what USAT sanctions are clinics, training camps, and so forth. For example, for several years USAT sanctioned and insured our F.I.S.T. Tri Bike Fit Workshops, where very little bike riding and no swimming takes place.

However, the number of occurrences during 2011 of this nature are no doubt small. Of the 4,334 sanctioned events, about 2,200 are adult triathlons, and about 500 are duathlons. The rest are training camps, very short youth races or clinics. It might be fair to assume that the raw number of adult triathlon race occurrences that include a swim leg is still near, or maybe over, 500,000.

The study debunked several popularly held assumptions, the first of which is that the rate of deaths has been steadily increasing: 2009 and 2010 were exceptionally kind to triathletes in terms of deaths per race occurrence, with the lowest death rate.

Neither the length of the race, the venue (pool or open water), mass versus wave start, or athletic or race experience provided a common thread. There is no evidence that swimming-induced pulmonary edema (SIPE) was a proximate cause of death, although the panelists cautioned, “we cannot exclude the possibility of a role for SIPE in the victims’ deaths, [yet] we know of no victim with an antecedent diagnosis of SIPE and we find no information in our review that would establish this diagnosis with certainty in the victims.”

The report concludes with a list of recommendations for race athletes that underscores the need for cardiac testing and awareness of cardiac symptoms. Slowtwitch is preparing an in-depth set of best practices for all involved. First on our editorial calendar will be specific lists of cardiac tests tailored to the type of athlete (the initial set of tests for those aged under 40, and over 40; what tests should be done annually; what tests should not necessarily be done because of cost and invasiveness, but should be considered based on specific symptoms; what that testing should cost).

The panel also contrasted deaths to the 1-in-44,000 that occur in NCAA sports. However, this underscores what might be a problem with the metrics used by the panelists. “Participants” is a term used loosely in the study, and it is not specified whether this means a discrete person or a number of race occurrences. Indeed, as far as triathlon goes, it’s the latter according to a USAT spokesman. However, is that necessarily the case when contrasting with the NCAA stats? Is the NCAA really counting every competitive event every NCAA athlete contested? And, if the NCAA is counting deaths during workouts, are we also counting that in triathlon? (We are not, at least, not in this study.)

Still, this is a landmark study and compares well to those specific to other, like events such as marathon running.


No word of a lie – Pinocchio selected as mascot for 2013 cycling world championships

Pinocchio 2013 world championships mascot

In a week when UCI president Pat McQuaid has insisted the governing body has nothing to hide in relation to the Lance Armstrong scandal, organisers of next year’s road world championships in Tuscany have unveiled the event’s mascot – Pinocchio, the toy made of wood who dreams of becoming a boy and whose nose grows each time he tells a lie.

With some believing that life president Hein Verbruggen, under heavy criticism as a result of the Armstrong affair, is still pulling the strings at the UCI, the choice of a puppet as the symbol of the event is a doubly unfortunate one, although organisers insist that it is other qualities of the fictional character that they are looking to highlight.

“Ours is a Pinocchio connected to his origins, happy, athletic and attentive,” says the description on the Toscana 2013 website. The character, best known outside Italy as a result of the 1940 Disney film, was created by the Florentine writer Carlo Collodi, who published his book The Adventures of Pinocchio in 1883.

“He is looking at the horizon, expressing an optimistic attitude versus the future. The expression of his face is smiling, happy, positive” – perhaps not the best choice of word in the current environment – “and at the same time astonished.”

Astonished at the scale of the doping revelations that have hit the sport over the past couple of weeks? Not at all, although looking at the length of his schnozz, you might be entitled to wonder what he’s hiding in his own past.

Nope, he’s “astonished by the beauty of what he sees in front of himself (because there is land and places that keep astonishing),” says the organising committee.

“This type of expression shall also be an invitation to the public to come discovering the beauty of this land. The upright standing Pinocchio with his right hand to his flank represents his happiness and pride.

“Our Pinocchio is happy that his land, Tuscany, has been chosen to host the World Championships of Cycling. The outline is athletic and slim,” they add, “just like a real driver” – that should be “rider,” a little lost in translation there, unless there’s a big change in UCI equipment regs we haven’t been told about yet.

Pinocchio, it turns out, also appears to be pro-helmet compulsion, although with a noggin made of wood you wouldn’t have thought he’d need one.

“This Pinocchio is also one who reminds us of the social message: Under his left arm he holds a helmet to “communicate”, to children and also to adults, that safety is necessary (at competitions and also if you drive [ride] just for fun).”

From road cc

Lance Armstrong’s Tour de France victories will not be reallocated

From BBC Sports

Lance Armstrong’s seven Tour de France titles will not be awarded to any other riders, the International Cycling Union has announced.

Armstrong was stripped of his yellow jerseys for doping by cycling’s governing body on Monday.

“The management committee decided not to award victories to any other rider or upgrade other placings in any of the affected events,” said a UCI statement.

Armstrong report key claims

Lance Armstrong
  • Achievements of USPS/Discovery Channel pro cycling team accomplished through the most sophisticated, professional and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen
  • Armstrong’s career at the team was fuelled from start to finish by doping
  • More than a dozen former team-mates, friends and former team employees confirm a fraudulent course of conduct
  • Armstrong acted with the help of a small army of enablers, including doping doctors, drug smugglers and others within and outside the sport and his team
  • He had ultimate control over not only his own personal drug use but over the doping culture of the team
  • Team staff were good at predicting when testers would turn up and seemed to have inside information
  • Evidence is beyond strong and as strong as any case ever brought by Usada

American Armstrong crossed the line first every year between 1999 and 2005.

The UCI acknowledged that “a cloud of suspicion would remain hanging over this dark period – but that while this might appear harsh for those who rode clean, they would understand there was little honour to be gained in reallocating places”.

The body has also ordered Armstrong and others to pay back all prize money from this period, and has commissioned an independent investigation into the whole Armstrong affair. Pending the results of the report, defamation proceedings against Paul Kimmage, a former cyclist and Sunday Times journalist, have been suspended.

The statement added: “The committee agreed that part of the independent commission’s remit would be to find ways to ensure that persons caught for doping were no longer able to take part in the sport, including as part of an entourage.”

Armstrong, 41, and his United States Postal Service team ran “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen”, a 1,000-page United States Anti-Doping Agency report concluded.

In the report, it was also claimed that Armstrong paid the UCI $100,000 (£62,300) for the fight against anti-doping.

Floyd Landis, a former colleague of Armstrong’s who now admits to using drugs, claims this was hush money to cover up a positive test for the banned substance EPO that was collected from Armstrong during his victory at the Tour of Switzerland in 2001.

The UCI admitted it received money from Armstrong in 2002, but said in 2010 that this was not part of a cover-up. 

BBC Sport understands that at Friday’s UCI management committee hearing there was an attempt by more than one member to force honorary president Hein Verbruggen to resign, but it did not gain enough support and failed.

Verbruggen and president Pat McQuaid, who has been asked to resign in an open letter by America’s three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond, have come under intense pressure to stand aside in the wake of the Armstrong scandal. There was no attempt to get McQuaid to quit.

McQuaid said the governing body are “determined to turn around this painful episode in the history of our sport”.

“We will take whatever actions are deemed necessary by the independent commission and we will put cycling back on track,” said McQuaid.

“Today, cycling is a completely different sport from what it was in the period 1998-2005.

“Riders are now subject to the most innovative and effective anti-doping procedures and regulations in sport.

“Nevertheless, we have listened to the world’s reaction to the Lance Armstrong affair and have taken these additional decisive steps in response to the grave concerns raised.”

World anti-doping body Wada said it backed the UCI’s decision to create an independent review commission.

British Cycling president Brian Cookson said: “The UCI has taken another worthwhile step in its response to the Usada investigation into Lance Armstrong.

“I can assure everyone that my UCI management committee colleagues and I are unanimous in our determination that this independent commission will just be the start of the process and nothing will be off the agenda.

“Cycling must and will learn the lessons of the Armstrong era.”

2012 Age Group Triathlon World Championships Video

A record number of athletes helped to put the 2012 ITU Age-Group World Championships in the International Triathlon Union history books, with more than 3000 athletes racing at Queens Wharf on Monday in Auckland.

Great video of the event, showing how popular triathlon is at that corner of the world, produced by International Triathlon Union

Last two events for 2012 organized from Cyprus Triathlon Federation

Cyprus Triathlon Federation announces two new races for 2012.

  1. Volkswagen Duathlon at Pareklisia beach – Limassol on November 11th, 2012
  2. Kids Triathlon at Nicosia Olympic Swimming Pool on December 2nd, 2012

More details and registration at:

Tour de France 2013 route reavealed

From velo peloton

The route

Running from Saturday June 29th to Sunday July 21th 2013, the 100th Tour de France will be made up of 21 stages and will cover a total distance of 3,479 kilometres (before ratification).

  • 7 flat stages
  • 5 hilly stages
  • 6 mountain stages with 4 summit finishes
  • 2 individual time trial stages
  • 1 team time trial stage
  • 2 rest days

Alpe-d’Huez 1 and 2
The most significant change and, without a shadow of a doubt one of the highlights of this 100th edition: the Alpe-d’Huez will be climbed twice on the 18thstage. The first passage at the top of Alpe-d’Huez 1 will take place 50 kilometres before the finish at Alpe-d’Huez 2. Three further summit finishes are planned: Ax 3 Domaines, Mont Ventoux and Annecy-Semnoz, a new venue on the Tour map.

Distinctive aspects of the race

First up Corsica… then nothing but the French mainland
Corse-du-Sud and Haute-Corse were the only two departments in metropolitan France that had never before hosted the Tour. The Grand Départ of 2013 will put an end to that. Once back on the mainland, the race will continue entirely within France and not take in any foreign countries – a concept last applied in 2003.

IndividuaL and team time-trials
The 4th stage, contested at Nice across 25 km, will represent the team time trial challenge, last carried out in 2009. Two individual time trials are also scheduled over a distance of 33 km between Avranches and Mont-Saint-Michel on stage 11, then over 32 km between Embrun and Chorges, on stage 17.


10 first-time city stages

  • Porto-Vecchio (start of 1st stage)
  • Bastia (end of 1st stage and start of 2nd stage)
  • Ajaccio (end of 2nd stage and start of 3rd stage)
  • Calvi (end of 3rd stage)
  • Cagnes-sur-Mer (start of 5th stage)
  • Saint-Gildas-des-Bois (start of 10thstage)
  • Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule (start of 14th stage)
  • Givors (start of 15th stage)
  • Chorges (end of 17th stage)
  • Annecy-Semnoz (end of 20th stage)

The stages

1 On-line Saturday, June 29th Porto-Vecchio > Bastia 212 km
2 On-line Sunday, June 30th Bastia > Ajaccio 154 km
3 On-line Monday, July 1st Ajaccio > Calvi 145 km
4 Team time-trial Tuesday, July 2nd Nice > Nice 25 km
5 On-line Wednesday, July 3rd Cagnes-sur-Mer > Marseille 219 km
6 On-line Thursday, July 4th Aix-en-Provence > Montpellier 176 km
7 On-line Friday, July 5th Montpellier > Albi 205 km
8 On-line Saturday, July 6th Castres > Ax 3 Domaines 194 km
9 On-line Sunday, July 7th Saint-Girons > Bagnères-de-Bigorre 165 km
Rest day Monday, July 8th Saint-Nazaire – Loire-Atlantique
10 On-line Tuesday, July 9th Saint-Gildas-des-Bois > Saint-Malo 193 km
11 Individual time-trial Wednesday, July 10th Avranches > Mont-Saint-Michel 33 km
12 On-line Thursday, July 11th Fougères > Tours 218 km
13 On-line Friday, July 12th Tours > Saint-Amand-Montrond 173 km
14 On-line Saturday, July 13th Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule > Lyon 191 km
15 On-line Sunday, July 14th Givors > Mont Ventoux 242 km
Rest day Monday, July 15th Vaucluse
16 On-line Tuesday, July 16th Vaison-la-Romaine > Gap 168 km
17 Individual time-trial Wednesday, July 17th Embrun > Chorges 32 km
18 On-line Thursday, July 18th Gap > Alpe-d’Huez 168 km
19 On-line Friday, July 19th Bourg-d’Oisans > Le Grand-Bornand 204 km
20 On-line Saturday, July 20th Annecy > Annecy – Semnoz 125 km



Cancer Boy Crosses Finish Line on Marine’s Help at Mini-Triathlon in Florida

Spectators at a children’s triathlon had to hold back tears when an 11-year-old cancer survivor whose prosthetic leg broke mid-race was spotted crossing the finish line on the back of a US Marine.

Ben Baltz was competing in the 1.6km running portion of the mini-triathlon in Florida on Sunday — after completing a 140m swim and 6.4km bike run — when a screw on his mechanical leg came loose and the limb snapped in half.

Ben has been using a prosthetic since the age of six, when he was diagnosed with bone cancer in his right leg and had his fibula and tibia removed.

At the Sea Turtle Tri kids triathlon at Opal Beach, Pensacola, local Marines who had volunteered to help monitor the course ran over to the young boy, picked him up and carried him the rest of the way.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I want you to turn around and look at what’s happening on the course,” the race announcer said.

Ben was greeted by loud cheers, including from his worried mother Kim Baltz, as he crossed the finish line on the back of Private First Class Matthew Morgan and surrounded by five other Marines.

“It just made me start crying that they would have picked him up and helped him finish the race,” Ms Baltz said.

She said Ben was a little discouraged he did not finish on his own but she told him he was an inspiration to a lot of people.