People seem to always find a way to cheat. Doping is nothing new in triathlon. It’s clearly wrong, but it’s not new, and we all know it’s continuing. The above is a screenshot from a post on SlowTwitch. For anyone who can’t see the image, to summarize, a woman was caught letting air out of the tire of one of her competitors just prior to IM 70.3 Syracuse. Thankfully, she was reported, disqualified, and the victim’s tire was reinflated.
I’m sure more reporting will come out, and I would very much like to hear from this woman why she was messing with someone else’s bike (allegedly, she claimed she was trying to inflate someone else’s tire, but got the bikes confused – if so, why did air come out of a tire and not go in?). But the sad thing is, this isn’t a unique situation.
When athletes dope, they’re only risking their own health. When someone messes with someone else’s equipment, they’re risking injury to that other athlete. You might think that letting air out of someone’s tire will just make them slower, or make them have to stop to change the tube (thinking there was a puncture in it). But this could also lead to a crash and physical injury to the athlete (or to other athletes if the crash takes down others, which can very easily happen).
You hear of all sorts of suspected sabotage. An athlete’s seatpost suddenly drops during a race because the clamp has been loosened, even though it has never fallen before. An athlete leaves transition and finds her brake pads are misaligned and rubbing (though this can happen from the bike being accidentally bumped in transition). Tires mysteriously go flat. Items disappear from transition.
Of course, some of this can happen randomly or by accident. I don’t understand how you can accidentally grab someone else’s shoes in transition, but I suppose it’s possible. And when something mechanical goes wrong on your bike, sometimes that’s just dumb luck.
But sometimes, it’s because people have decided that sabotage is a great way to cheat. Conveniently, I’m not really competition for anyone, so let’s hope my stuff is safe. But this really mars the spirit of triathlon. I have seen plenty of people stop to help others during races. We’ve all seen people helping others over the finish line. That’s the sport I love. And sure, you can be competitive. You can push to be faster than someone else. But the goal is that you are faster, not that you make someone else slower. And there’s certainly no glory in getting there by cheating.