Several athletes have expressed their opinions, whether positive or negative, on the World Triathlon Corporation’s new “eight percent rule.” The rule, which requires athletes to finish within eight-percent of the winner’s time in order to receive prize money, has many athletes frustrated about the perceived lack of support for up-and-coming triathletes. Until now three-time Ironman World Champion Chrissie Wellington has stayed relatively quiet on the issue. Wellington broke her silence to UK’s 220 Magazine:
As a professional athlete I feel the need to voice my opinion on the new policy changes that have recently been instigated by the company with the monopoly over long-distance triathlon – the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC). While the new policies are focused on professional athletes I think it’s important for me, as World Champion, to articulate my views and encourage everyone involved in triathlon to take an interest in how our sport is being run.
The WTC’s new polices and rules can be found at www.ironmanusa.com, but briefly are as follows: pros wishing to do Ironman or 70.3 races must register with the WTC’s Professional Membership Program. The cost is US$750. This provides free entry to all of the WTC’s Ironman and 70.3 races (aside from the Ironman and 70.3 World Champs where athletes still have to pay the entry fee), as well as membership to the new WTC anti-doping programme. In addition, significant changes have been made to prize money payment and the distribution of pro slots for the World Championships.
The new ruling states that athletes must now finish within 8% of the winner’s time to win money (not 10% of second place as before), with any ‘un-won’ prize money being redistributed between the prize-winning men and women. So, for example, say the third to 10th place women don’t win anything then the rest of the women’s money will go to the first two women. In addition, pros must finish within 5% of the winner’s time to qualify for the World Championships.