WM-Titel mit drei Wochen Verspätung: Nachdem Christopher Dels schon längst wieder im deutschen Alltag angekommen war und reichlich für seinen zweiten Platz (Overall und in der AK35) bei der Ironman-WM 2019 auf Hawaii gefeiert wurde, darf sich der deutsche Agegrouper nun – drei Wochen nach dem Rennen in Kona – offiziell Ironman-Agegroup-Weltmeister nennen. Ende vergangener Woche bekam der Lehrer aus Bamberg einen Anruf von Ironman-CEO Andrew Messick, der dem 35-jährigen Dels nachträglich und offiziell zum WM-Titel gratulierte.
Bereits kurz nach dem Rennen wurde der Sieg des Portugiesen Sérgio Marques, der viele Jahre als Profi startete, kontrovers diskutiert. Der Grund für die Diskussionen war allerdings nicht die Profivergangenheit von Marques, sondern die Tatsache, dass der Portugiese sowohl am 29. September 2019 beim Ironman 70.3 Cascais als auch bei der Challenge Almere 2019 als Profi an den Start ging.
Der Portugiese, der sich beim Ironman Lanzarote 2019 qualifizierte, gab als Ausrede vor, nicht zu wissen, dass er in Cascais als Profi gestartet sei. Diese Ausrede ließ Ironman allerdings nicht gelten, griff durch und disqualifizierte den 39-Jährigen, der beim Ironman Hawaii mit einem deutlichen Vorsprung von neun Minuten nach 8:35:12 Stunden als erster Agegrouper ins Ziel kam, nachträglich.
Marques lügt Dels bei Siegerehrung an
“Marques hat zu mir bei der Siegerehrung auf Nachfrage sogar gesagt, dass er das letzte Mal 2012 als Profi an den Start gegangen sei, nachdem mich einige Leute sofort auf seinen diesjährigen Start aufmerksam gemacht haben”, sagt Dels zu der Situation vor Ort.
Auf die Frage, wie es sich anfühle, erst im Nachhinein Weltmeister zu werden und der Freude bei der Siegerehrung vor Ort beraubt worden zu sein, fand der 35-Jährige gemischte Gefühle: “Ich habe Ironman selbst geschrieben und wollte darauf aufmerksam machen – auch wenn meine Nachricht für die Disqualifikation letztendlich überhaupt nicht ausschlaggebend war. Dabei ging es mir auch gar nicht unbedingt um den Titel, sondern um das Verhalten von Sérgio Marques und darum, dass er mich so dreist angelogen hat. Die Belohnung durch das perfekte Rennen, das ich ohnehin in Kona hatte, ist mir im Endeffekt mehr wert als die eigentliche Platzierung oder die Salatschüssel. Aber nach dem Ironman-70.3-WM-Titel im vergangenen Jahr ist das jetzt eine wirklich schöne Abrundung, über die ich mich trotz der Umstände freue”, sagt Dels, der auf Hawaii nach 8:44:12 Stunden ins Ziel kam und mit Splitzeiten von 59:08 Minuten, 4:40:51 Stunden und 2:56:56 Stunden nach eigener Aussage das Rennen seines Lebens erwischte.
Nachdem es von 2015 bis 2017 bei den Männern auf Hawaii immer einen deutschen Agegroup-Weltmeister gab und im vergangenen Jahr der Neuseeländer Dan Plews diese Serie unterbrach, holt Christopher Dels diesen Titel nun zurück nach Deutschland – wenn auch mit drei Wochen Verspätung.
Serigo marques Words :
(Way better than your shitty explanation, even the portuguese National federation and race organizers apolagised for the error)… he is only champion because of an office error.
During the last couple of months, a lot has been said and written about the penalty that was imposed to me by WTC following my win at Ironman Hawaii, last October, and stripping me of my Age Group World Champion title.
I want to make clear that I did not violate any rule on race day or following it, including antiDoping testing protocols to which I was subjected – no problem here.
I was disqualified due to my participation in my home race – Ironman Cascais 70.3 – two weeks before Kona, after a wrong registration procedure by race organizers.
First, I want to start by telling everyone that I raced 15 years with a professional licence. In the beginning as college student, then as bike store co-owner and in the last years as civil engineer. I decided to stop racing professional in at the end of 2017 and switched focusing in my current job.
I graduated from college with a Civil Engineering degree and I start working full-time in my construction company. My job consists of logging many hours in my car, supervising construction sites all over the country. Portugal is a small country, but that is still a lot of hours and miles in my car.
I am an age-grouper like many of you, waking up early to get a swim in and coming home from work logging a late night bike or run and be a weekend warrior like most athletes.
Up until the last week of October, I thought I had participated at 70.3 Cascais on an “invitation slot” and had started the race with the professional wave for the organization convenience.
The race was a training day for me and a way to be a part of my home 70.3 and I did this race under the insistence of the race director, a friend of mine, who made me believe that racing Cascais 70.3 would not affect my age-grouper status.
I have come to realize this was not true, and in hindsight, I regret all this mess happened just to enjoy a race close to home.
I am sorry that all this mess affected my classification at a race that I love, but above all that tarnished the whole process. While I realize now my participation in Cascais race was against the rules, it was never my intention to deceive or circumvent the rules.
Like a lot of you reading this, Ironman is my life’s passion, and Kona has been a dream for me for a long time, first as a pro and now as an age-grouper.
I will now go back to pursue my passion and hope to see you in Kona next year.
How it unfolded
I do understand that false scenarios and false information may have led people to take wrong conclusions and to make bad accusations against me. These false data might have led the triathlon community to assume that I am not and honest person or that I deliberately violated Ironman rules or wish to cheat other athletes. I did not!
Since child, my parents taught me to be a honest person, to always tell the truth regardless of any consequence. That is exactly what I have done my whole life, including as an athlete.
In case you are interested in the truth, I am explaining below how this wrong registration for Ironman Cascais 70.3 unfolded. I am also letting you know on what I am being accused by WTC.
I want to explain you every single step of the process, because I want the full Ironman community to understand how I ended up being a victim of professional incompetence by race organizers.
The registration Process
Let me make this point clear, I did not registered myself for Ironman Cascais 70.3. I trusted that the organizers, those who invited me to be part of the race, would be aware of WTC rules on professional racing and granting of professional licenses. Well they did not! They had no idea how it works!
It all started two months before racing Ironman Lanzarote, a race I registered for myself as Age group (holding an age group license from my national federation), when I was messaged by Ironman Cascais’ 70.3 race director inviting me to be part of Cascais race that would take place late September. I replied that I would love to be part of the race and that I would be glad to be part of a future full ironman race in Cascais in 2020.
He then asked me whether he could register me as PRO in order to offer me better conditions.
To that, I replied (in Portuguese):
“I am no longer PRO. It was a long time ago (2 years distant is a lot of time).”
In the same sentence, I also said:
“Even if I would like to start with PRO athletes I can’t as I am registered once again in Lanzarote as Age Group”
In this reply, it is clear that I never asked him to race as PRO and I did let him know the reason why – I was already registered as Age Group in Lanzarote in May.
I must assume he did not know Ironman Regulation, a fact that he would admit himself to me later on a talk face to face. Should he have known those rules and he would have understood that an athlete cannot race professional and then age group in the same calendar year. He would also have know that in order to register someone as professional, it is mandatory to first require the professional athlete status to his National federation. He had no idea. He did not consult the NF.
I came also to know recently that still in March, race organization contacted WTC in order to start my registration procedure without having consulted me or my NF at first asking for mandatory documents.
Some weeks later, by end of April/beginning of May, once again organizers messaged me, requeiring some personal data so they could proceed with registration (as an invitee I agreed upon the request and sent them some personal data, believing they had understand I couldn’t race as pro (no further details were presented do me then).
Later on, just some weeks before Cascais’ race I was contacted one last time by race organizers informing me that registration was still not complete and they needed to have access to my ACTIVE Area requiring my password.
By no means I was told I would be granting a professional license for the race. The only information I had from race director was that I would start the race along professional athletes wave for promotion reasons. Also, he told me he would take care of the necessary procedures for that to happen with no further comments on my athlete status.
Let us not forget that I was already registered since june for Ironman World Championships following my qualification in Lanzarote in May.
Should I have been told I would be granted a professional license I would never accept starting the race and would immediately ask organizers to cancel my participation. World championship was two weeks ahead. Since the very first day, I trusted race organization and expected them to be professional and to know full WTC rules namely those rule affecting athlete status.
When in March race organizers first contacted WTC to start my registration as PRO (without my knowledge), WTC reply was clear:
“it is fairly important that the athletes register and sign the waivers themselves vs having a 3rd party sign on their behalf.
Anyone can pay – but they should be aware of the waiver/s they are signing as they are ultimately accountable.”
Well, race organisers did exactly the opposite and registered me for the race themselves.
To worsen the case, they registered me at the wrong category, and paid for it accordingly, without asking me to sign any sort professional waiver.
To conclude on this registration topic I present a summary of my National Federation letter to WTC showing evidences that registration procedure was illegal and violated NF rules due to the fact some requirements were not met by organisers as no one can register an athlete without consulting NF first.
As referred in the letter from Portuguese National Triathlon Federation (NF):
a) The athlete has no valid professional license issued or validated by Portuguese NF for 2019
b) This NF did not approved any professional license under the athlete’s name as common practise for other Portuguese athletes (usual procedure for Portuguese professional athletes).
c) The athlete required this NF to validate his AG License before racing 2019 Ironman Lanzarote and 2019 Ironman World Championship. NF issued a document affirming his AG status.
d) The athlete informed his NF that he intended to quit racing as professional by the end 2017.
e) The race organizers did not ask the NF sanctioning the race for the required documents on athletes status, which is a mandatory procedures in order for register someone as professional or amateur, which is a violation of national rules and ironman rules
f) the Portuguese National Federation is the only official body accredited for issuing or validating professional licenses for Portuguese athletes, including one-day licenses.
On 25th October, I received my first message from WTC on an eventual violation of Ironman rules of professional status and asking for my reply in less than 24h
“Any athlete holding elite/ professional status from their ITU Member National Triathlon Federation or an IRONMAN Professional Membership (as verified by elite/ pro status of an athlete’s National Triathlon Federation) is prohibited from racing as an AGE GROUP athlete in ANY sanctioned triathlon events anywhere in the world, where there is an elite/ pro wave, within the same calendar year.
Disqualification and potential sanction from WTC events, and forfeiture of any AGE GROUP World Championship qualifying slots may result for any athlete that has not adhered to this policy.
Based on the above policy that you acknowledged when you registered, signed the relevant waivers for (see attached) and subsequently competed in the 2019 IRONMAN 70.3 Portugal-Cascais as an IRONMAN Pro Member, only athletes designated as elite/professional by their NF are allowed to purchase an IRONMAN Professional Membership.
Therefore, I must assume that you are currently classified by your NF as an elite/professional athlete, yet chose to compete as an age-group athlete in the 2019 IRONMAN World Championships.”
To this message, I replied that my athlete status was Age Group, as recognised by my NF. I also made very clear that I had no professional license from my NF since 2017 and did not ask for one or ask anyone else to do it on my behalf for Ironman Cascais 70.3.
I also informed WTC I did not sign any professional waiver or did authorize anyone else to do it.
I replied I was AG since January 2018 and it was under this status that I had raced in 2018 and 2019, including my qualification races for Kona, both in Lanzarote in 2018 and 2019. Of course it would be under AG status that I raced in Kona in 2018 (3rd in my AG) and raced in 2019 (overall AG winner).
To prove my facts I attached all the documents issued from Portuguese NF, proving my AG status.
It is important to remind all that, before racing Ironman Lanzarote in May and before racing Ironman World championships, in Hawaii, in October, I asked permission to my NF to race as AG requiring all document confirming my athlete status (I provide WTC with all docs). No other document or athlete status was issued or recognised by my NF.
WTC formal accusation followed a very first accusation right after my Ironman winning in Hawaii during awards ceremony where another AG athlete asked me if I had raced Ironman Cascais 70.3 two weeks before as Professional. At the time, I denied and was puzzled as I had not registered myself and had not ask anyone to do the registration in PRO division for me.
All the mentioned documents emails/messages exchanged with race organizers where sent to WTC
I also sent letters from my NF proving I never had professional license or did anyone asked NF for one on my behalf and proving I that I consulted NF before my both IM races Lanzarote and Hawaii as AG.
My Final Thoughts
Two months after my first accusation message from WTC and after many emails sent out and back I still cannot find any reason why I should be disqualified.
In its very first message, WTC accuses me of having a professional license from my NF and thus being classified by your NF as a professional athlete.
As I have clearly explained, I have no professional license valid for racing in 2019, as was confirmed by my NF by letter sent to WTC. I remind that Portuguese NF is the only official body accredited for issuing or validating professional licenses for Portuguese athletes.
I was also accused by WTC of having registered myself and having signed a professional waiver, which I did not.
I am very upset as following my request to WTC to send me evidences where I broke the mentioned rules (signed waiver by myself or copy of my professional license), I receive no answer or documents (I received an electronic waiver, but not signed).
On my side, I was very calm explaining WTC members what happened and all the mess with my registration and did provided all the facts and evidences (including copies of all messages exchanged with organizers and the documents issued by my NF).
Unfortunately, it looks like WTC did not care much about evidences and decided not to change initial decision of DQF me from the race (my classification was deleted almost immediately without I was given the chance of defend myself and send all evidences).
Of course, the biggest mistake was my wrong registration by race organizers for the Ironman Cascais 70.3 in the professional category.
I reaffirm that this registration made under my name is illegal due to lack of mandatory procedures and documents namely my athlete status (WTC should have required it) and therefore I my athlete status was never other than Age Group.
If someone should be blamed for this mistake was not me, but race organizers.
Registering an age group athlete in professional category against his will and granting him a virtual professional license is itself a violation of Portuguese NF rules (official body sanctioning the race)
I will keep repeating that since the very beginning, I made very clear to race organizers that I was already registered for Ironman Lanzarote as Age Group. Therefore, I could not have been registered as PRO following my Kona qualification.
In addition, WTC should not have accepted an athlete registration without a copy of the athlete’s pro licence or professional status – it looks race organisers and WTC should both have known better their own rules and procedures!
Yes, I am also to blame. I should blame myself for trusting race organizers and for believing their professional competence and assuming they would know the rules. However, are athletes supposed not to trust organizers when they invite them to be part of Ironman races? Now, I would say No.
It’s hard to believe but to show you how bad people can deal with athletes, let me tell you what race organizers did after being contacted by WTC to explained what happened 2 days before I was formally accused (it would be nice WTC had contacted me first – Not the organization)
Race organizers replied to WTC saying that I had not told them anything about my athlete status or any registration as AG and even worse told that they did not registered me for the race.
Let us be direct – They decide not to tell the truth to WTC before I was contacted by WTC
What else can I say now?
• Yes, I trusted race organizers
• Yes, I ended up taking part in an event in PRO category.
• Yes, I should have known better
• Yes, I acted as a passionate long course triathlete trusting the honest work by those who had help building Ironman Cascais race in the past years.
However, I must also repeat that:
• Yes, race organizers were the ones registering me wrong in Active
• Yes, race organizers did violate NF rules
• Yes, race organizers broke WTC rules in every possible way, ignoring strict instructions sent to them previously by WTC
• Yes, WTC did accept my registration without asking for the evidences on athlete’s status thus breaking its own rules.
• Race Organizers assured me that everything would be taken care of so I could participate in the race as a “guest”
Finally, I would ask WTC to make sure that in the future:
• Race organizers know the rules and Ironman procedures, make them sign a waiver perhaps
• Race organizers comply with NF rules
• Race organizers respect athletes will – I told them I was already registered as AG and could not race as PRO
• Race organisers do not get away with it as if they had done nothing wrong.
• WTC Listen to all parts equally including nation federation and consult athletes first
• WTC provides all evidences (I sent several but received none)
• No other athlete will be stripped of any title due to others’ incompetence.
I am still happy I won the race clean and grateful to all athletes that sent me messages saying I would still be their winner. Nevertheless, of course, I am upset and unhappy with how WTC dealt with it.
I will repeat, like many of you reading this text, Ironman is my life’s passion, and Kona has been a dream for me for a long time, first as a pro and now as an age-grouper.
I will now go back to pursue my passion and hope to see you in Kona next year and hope this whole Cascais issue will not compromise my 2020 race as I want to have a clean race, always!
Sergios words start on line 4**
Und was sagt die Redaktion dazu? Kein einziges Wort???