Where Does the Prize Money Go When 1st Place Gets Caught for Doping in an Ironman Event?

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As they say, it pays to dope. Not many clean athletes are millionaires.

If you go on to Ironman’s Anti-Doping Page, it briefly discusses how doping affects the longevity of the sport. Then it quickly cuts to an advertisement for Timex Ironman watches. There isn’t even a link to, or mention of, USADA or WADA. 

Since Ironman has fallen short on its duty to inform you of what happens when a professional athlete is caught doping and is forced to give prize money back, we’d like to shed some light on the subject for you.

Lauren Barnett was  paid $10,000 after winning Racine 70.3 this past summer. Just recently she was given a six-month suspension after she failed a drug test taken at the race, which determined that she had ostarine, an anabolic agent, in her system. Ostarine acts similarly to steroids but without some of the side-effects. Barnett claimed that it came from a contaminated salt pill, and USADA apparently believed that, so she was given six months instead of two years. 

The cheater was caught in this case, unlike so many other instances. So what happens to the $10,000 in prize money that she dishonestly won? Will justice be served? Does the money get redistributed to the athletes who crossed the line in 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th place?

No.

Instead, Ironman takes that money to pay for legal costs and to enhance their anti-doping “education.” This education is to rehabilitate those few dopers who get caught, so they end up inadvertently receiving some of that prize money after all, in a certain sense anyways. None of the money that the doper ‘won’ is redistributed to the clean competitors. Imagine showing up at work and learning that your salary got cut by $500 or even $5,000 because your co-employee did something wrong. Doesn’t make sense does it?

Ironman needs to reconsider this poorly thought-out policy and quit punishing clean athletes for deciding to race with a conscience. If legal fees and anti-doping “education” classes need to be paid for, the doping athlete should foot the bill, or at the very least, Ironman should pay those costs itself, not clean athletes. To give an idea of how much was stolen, and not returned, here is each place and the amount that they were denied by a doper and WTC’s current policy:

  • 2nd place across the line (who was moved up to 1st place retroactively) got cheated out of $5,000
  • 3rd place: $1,750
  • 4th place: $1,000
  • 5th place: $750
  • 6th place: $500
  • 7th place: $500
  • 8th place: $250
  • 9th place: $500

WTC, do the right thing and change your policy. It’s hard enough as it is competing against dopers who are essentially never caught. Clean racers are already at a major disadvantage. Don’t make it worse for us. Ban dopers for life, or a the very minimum, two years if there is enough evidence that the banned substance was ingested accidentally. And, give back the prize money to those who earned it.


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