The International Triathlon Union will specifically allow disc brake tri bikes for use in competition. This was a highlighted item among the changes announced today in the rules contained in the ITU's 208 page Competition Rules.
The World Federation of Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI), which represented many bike manufacturers, Ironman, and Slowtwitch all gave input to the ITU's Technical Committee. All the entities in communication with the committee appeared to be in sync on the issue, and are likely to welcome the decision.
The ITU is still not allowing the use of disc brakes in draft-legal competition. The ITU closely follows the UCI rules for its draft-legal rules and the UCI's posture toward disc brakes remains in flux.
The ITU could have ruled in one of three ways. It could have specifically disallowed disc brakes in no-draft tri; it could have simply left it up to national federations to decide; or it could have done what it did: specifically allow disc brakes in no-draft tri. Prior to the decision just announced, the ITU's did not allow disc brakes for its races (regional or world championships) but it did allow national federations to decide for themselves whether disc brake no-draft would be legal in their countries. This was problematic because certain federations simply use the ITU's rules. Therefore, a disc brake no-draft tri bike could be legal for age group competition in the U.S., Canada and Australia, but not in the Netherlands or Spain.
A further complication is that some federations stipulating to the ITU's rules allow rule exceptions for Ironman racers in their countries while others don't. Prior to today's announcement a customer owning a disc brake tri bike would need to inquire before knowing for certain his bike would be legal for an Ironman, Challenge or similar race in a country not his own.
While not settling the question of whether a no-draft tri bike made with disc brakes is faster, or more desirable to consumers, this rulebook change effectively clears the way for tri bikes outfitted with disc brakes to be legal in any no-draft race everywhere in the world.