What Happened In Abu Dhabi?

  • By Liz Hichens
  • Published Jun 26, 2012
  • Updated Oct 31, 2014 at 4:38 PM UTC
Starykowicz on the 200K bike course. Photo: Nils Nilsen

Although Starykowicz tells us that he was charged with crimes (he would not be specific), race organizers say the police report has been concluded and he is not facing any prosecution.

The organizers tell us that they continue to help Starykowicz resolve the situation.

“We have continued to support Andrew since he’s returned,” the spokesperson for ADIT said. “Our counsel and senior management team have been in contact with him and continue to work with him. There was communication with him this week and we’re trying to get him the answers he needs. The event wants to take care of its athletes, volunteers, staff and spectators at the foremost and will do everything within its ability to help with the situation.”

Starykowicz says that although he received medical treatment during his time in UAE, his injuries were left undiagnosed until he returned home.

“When I came home I went to a shoulder specialist because my shoulder was not any better,” he said. “I then found out that the swelling had gone down enough and you could see my collarbone protruding through the skin, and that I indeed did have a broken collarbone. They did X-rays and I had a grade II AC separation and I had a huge hole in my labrum, all of which are contradictory to what their medical personnel had said. That’s why I said that I received inadequate medical attention.”

Starykowicz spent a total of six weeks in the UAE, meaning that he returned home in the middle of April. Which begs the question: Why did he wait so long to come forward with his story?

“When you look at people who’ve had issues in the Middle East and talk about it they’ve received maximum sentences,” he said. “They’ve never been let off the hook and if you look at the people who do get away with less scars, those people have pretty much worked with the system and have kept quiet and then afterward told their story.”

The tone of Starykowicz’s blog post caused some to wonder if he feels any sympathy for the volunteer who was left in critical condition for weeks.

“Anybody who has talked to me about this knows how much this pains me,” he said regarding Williams’ condition. “Most people are drawing conclusions that I’m not a very caring person and not a very nice person from this. That’s not the case. Both of us sustained injuries that have changed our lives. I would never wish this on my worst enemy. I volunteer at a lot of races and this has been very hard all around because this sport means so much to me and I feel really bad about this whole situation.”

For Starykowicz, his focus is now on trying to regain his health and hopefully return to competing next year.

“From what the doctors say, it will be extremely unlikely for me to race this year,” he said. “My goal is to do what I can, not focus on what I can’t do and focus on what I can do each day and get healthier, and hopefully I’ll be able to weather the storm and return stronger in 2013.”

Since Starykowicz has gone public with his story, several athletes, both professional and amateur, have expressed concern about racing in the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon in the future.

Australian pro Richie Cunningham says that the incident has caused him to rethink his 2013 racing plans.

“Was looking forward to racing Abu Dhabi next year but there is no way in hell I’m going now,” he wrote on his website.

While many have shown hesitancy about returning to the region, Great Britain’s Julie Dibens, who has won the race twice and served as an ambassador at the 2012 event, is standing up for the race organization.

“A lot of talk going on about ADIT,” Dibens tweeted. “That race is all class. 1 of best in the world #respectdifferentcultures.” She followed that with, “There is usually two sides to every story.”

The race organization recognizes that athletes may be hesitant to participate in the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon, but don’t feel that this incident should keep athletes away.

“The safety and well-being of everyone involved in the event and visiting the destination are of paramount importance,” the spokesperson said. “We believe that the strength of the event will see athletes of all skill levels continue to want to be part of the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon.”

Anyone with concerns or questions about the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon should direct comments to The 2013 race date has not yet been set.

We will continue to follow Starykowicz’s story.

RELATED PHOTOS: 2012 Abu Dhabi International Triathlon

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Liz Hichens

Liz Hichens

Liz Hichens is the Web Editor of She is an Ironman and marathon finisher and fan of all endurance sports.

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