Between sanctions and bureaucracy: why the international triathlon start was disrupted

Between sanctions and bureaucracy: why the international triathlon start was disrupted
Between sanctions and bureaucracy: why the international triathlon start was disrupted
23 June, 22:35SportPhoto:
Moscow has practically lost the iconic triathlon competitions, for the sake of which they planned to block the center of the capital. The organizers of the Intercontinental Cup announced the "suspension" of preparations for the competition due to the position of the Russian triathlon federation.

And participants demand a refund and prepare for the courts.

Alexander Dybin

Initially, the event was called Challenge Moscow and was supposed to take place last year. This is an amateur triathlon start in the Challenge World Series. A route was planned along the Garden Ring and the embankments of the Moscow River. But in 2021, the competition was postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Already this year, due to sanctions and the international situation, the parent company forbade holding competitions under its own brand, then the start was renamed the Intercontinental Cup and continued preparations. Approvals were received from the Moscow authorities to block the central streets and ensure security. But a week ago, the organizers announced that they were stopping preparations due to the fact that the Russian Triathlon Federation (RTF), headed by Ksenia Shoigu, refused to coordinate the event at the last moment.

The organizer of the tournament, Ekaterina Ledokol, broadcasted with the participants and said that the triathlon federation did not coordinate the start, citing a ban from the world federation. But the ban applies to professional athletes, whether it applies to amateurs is not clear. The icebreaker promised to clarify this issue and return to organizing the launch within a month. But given that the competition was supposed to take place on June 26, it will not be possible to hold them on time.

“The inability of the RTF to agree on our start has become an obstacle to the further work of the headquarters”, - the organizers said, “this agreement in the general package of documents is required by Moskomsport to assist in the provision of heavy equipment for blocking streets, as well as the formation of public order units from among the employees of the Russian Guard. It is the specialized associations accredited by the Ministry of Sports that have the right to issue such documents. In this release, the FTR refers to consultations with the Challenge Family, but no such consultations took place".

The organizers of the start told Novye Izvestia that the RTF had to clarify the issue of amateur competitions in the international federation.

“The triathlon federation did not follow the procedure, did not separately submit our application to the international federation and did not find out if there were reasons not to support this start,” Yekaterina Ledokol told Novye Izvestia, “the sanctions against the RTF are due to the fact that five professional athletes doping was recorded, so the federation does not have the right to hold professional starts. There was no talk of amateur starts. In our opinion, it was necessary to make every effort so that the event went through all the procedures and took place. There was no evidence that we could not be supported. We are ready to assist the RTF if legal assistance is needed. Now athletes are suffering, many were going to fly from distant regions, they booked tickets and hotels in advance for themselves and their families. Some solution had to be found. We prepared this start ourselves without financial support from either the state or the federation".

What they say in the RTF

The Russian triathlon federation said that they follow the instructions of the world federation, which imposed sanctions on the Russian side.

“In accordance with the decision of the Executive Committee of the World Triathlon Federation last year following the consideration of anti-doping violations in Russia, in 2022 it is prohibited to hold international triathlon starts under the auspices of the European and World Triathlon Federations. The World Triathlon also officially recommended the RTF to refuse to organize or coordinate any other international competitions in Russia in 2022, the RTF said. - In this regard, it is not possible to support the coordination of the triathlon start of the Triathlon International Cup. This may lead to more severe measures against the Russian triathlon".

At the same time, the RTF said that the organizers of the Moscow start could hold competitions without the participation of the federation.

“We have not agreed on the holding of the launch, but this does not mean its cancellation. The organizer himself assumes responsibility for the start and all organizational issues, if the agreement with the authorities is passed, - the RTF reported, - in connection with the World Triathlon sanctions in Russia, they do not have the right to hold international starts and the FTR cannot go against the rules of the World Triathlon. Also, the companies Ironman and Challenge banned launches in Russia under their auspices.

Double standarts?

The events around the Intercontinental Cup caused a strong reaction from the participants, many of whom contributed money for participation in the competition last year. A full-fledged participant package cost 27,600 rubles, and payments for slots were accepted until the very last moment.

“What is happening is very unpleasant, since all athletes are preparing for such events and expect conscientious work from the organizers,” one of the participants in the competition told Novye Izvestia, “if there are problems, it is voiced and they try to find a solution. At least the funds are returned, and they must offer it themselves. Considering this is not the first time they have failed to host an event. The whole community is laughing at this. There are a lot of organizers on the market who admit mistakes and look for ways out. Participants no longer understand the truth, what they say or not, or not. When they constantly keep back, it becomes indifferent. Return the money, sort it out, when you agree on everything, we will come to you again.

According to the athletes interviewed by Novye Izvestiya, the organizers of the Ironman amateur triathlon start in St. Petersburg found themselves in a similar situation. The Western owner of the brand forbade the launch under his own name. But the same team organized the Bronze Horseman competitions. Those who bought slots on Iron Man were offered to either return the money or transfer them to the Bronze Horseman, and at a discount, since the brand fee was removed from the cost. Interestingly, the triathlon race in St. Petersburg is supported by the Russian Triathlon Federation. On the website of the event and its social networks, there are indications that the start takes place under the auspices of the RTF. Why this did not happen with the Intercontinental Cup, although the situation looks like a mirror, is not clear.

The triathletes who bought slots at the Intercontinental Cup have teamed up in a Telegram chat, where they are discussing filing a claim for a refund. Now there are more than 240 people in the chat. Some of the athletes are foreigners who do not understand how they can collect their money and where to turn.

The organizers of the event have already stated that they do not plan to return the funds, since what happened is a force majeure and will be ready to provide slots when and if the competition is still agreed, or at another site.

“There was a clause in the offer about force majeure circumstances,” Ekaterina Ledokol said, “this is the issuance of a press release by the federations and the imposition of sanctions, we could not assume this, this clause refers to a circumstance that exempts the organizers from liability. The law of the Russian Federation does not provide for a refund. We will interact and wait for the decision of the international federation and after it we will form a position".

Ekaterina Ledokol, in an interview with Novye Izvestia, clarified that the Bronze Horseman race was out of sanctions, as it completely abandoned the international format.

“As we were informed, we retained the English name, and most importantly, the start remained international, which colleagues from St. Petersburg left. In addition, we still have the Challenge starter pack. This was done in order not to spend money on the formation of new packages and collect fees again. If we had received recommendations in February, when it was already known about the bans for the FTR, then we would have had more opportunities to formulate and do everything differently. And three weeks before the start, I think the common task was to keep the start, because it is important for the participants. Many of the triathletes do not have the opportunity to fly to foreign competitions. Some competitions do not accept Russians, some are used, but it is very difficult and expensive to fly. Members are very dear to us. But we cannot guarantee to what extent all the procedures will be passed, to what extent the officials will work out their part. There is an instruction from the president: 70% of the population should be involved in sports and we need to concentrate all together so that such a unique event takes place".

According to Yekaterina Ledokol, the organizers are not abandoning the event and are trying to agree on it again, but no one can name the dates now:

“Now we are working to save the launch, we are finding out all the circumstances, if the sanctions were introduced in November, why did we receive such a release only three before the event that the RTF could not support us", - she says, “now we are considering different hypotheses, including reformatting the event, but all options take time, since you need to go all the way again. We will be able to save the event and ask for the support of public organizations. We could become a platform for a new dialogue, as 22 countries were waiting, through such starts it is possible to build a sports image in Russia. Yes, in an amateur start, but it would be positive news, to show that such events can take place here".

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