Triathlon Ireland Reasoned Decision on Heather Foley’s Appeal to Lost Sheep Disqualification


On Saturday September 4th, Heather Foley - the women’s winner of the Lost Sheep Middle Distance National Championships - received a post-race penalty from the assigned Triathlon Ireland Technical Official for an infringement of the ITU Competition Rules (Rule 6.1.a.vii).

This rule states under the heading of Running Conduct, that “athletes will not be accompanied by team members, team managers or other pacemakers on the course.”

Ms Foley appealed this ruling and a properly constituted Race Jury, having heard evidence on her behalf and having examined the TO’s (technical official) application of the ITU Competition Rules, found that the Ms Foley had been accompanied during the run element of the triathlon and so had infringed Rule 6.1.a.vii.

Ms Foley subsequently corresponded directly to Triathlon Ireland to challenge the decision of the jury.

As a National Governing Body, Triathlon Ireland has an obligation to protect the integrity of our events and to ensure that fair play is a cornerstone of our sport.

This cannot be done without the vital work of the many Technical Officials who volunteer their time and expertise at races every year.

Triathlon Ireland has examined the events surrounding the triathlon and the decision arrived at by the Race Jury.


Decision of the Race Jury

Triathlon Ireland has not been presented with any evidence that calls into question the Race Jury’s decision to uphold the TO’s finding that the athlete breached Rule 6.1.a.vii. This finding was made on the basis of a number of independent eye witness reports of accompaniment, as well as photographic evidence of same.

However, following consultation with the International Triathlon Union, Triathlon Ireland has been advised that the offence of accompaniment does not fall under the category of those which merit disqualification. Instead, the ITU have advised that the offence should be dealt with by the imposition of a time penalty, as the offence is not a severe infringement of the ITU Rules.

The ITU have notified Triathlon Ireland that the section of the rulebook which deals with penalties for the offence of accompaniment will be amended in 2017 in order to make it clearer for Technical Officials.

Accordingly Triathlon Ireland, on the advice of the ITU, finds that Ms Foley should not have been disqualified from the race. Instead, a time penalty of four minutes should have been applied to her finish time.

Heather Foley is duly reinstated as the winner of the Lost Sheep Triathlon and the National Middle Distance Champion for 2016 and her finish time has been altered to 4hrs 46mins 51secs.