Ironman Suspends Athlete

Yesterday Julie Miller, of Squamish, BC, Canada, was disqualified retroactively from the 2013 edition of the Ironman Canada triathlon, according to a source close to Ironman. Ms. Miller has also been indefinitely suspended from entering all Ironman events.

Ironman used as the basis for its decision to suspend Ms. Miller its rule of competition 3.04(a), which allows for a suspension for "repeated rule violations." There was no time limit attached to the suspension.

The 2013 edition of Ironman Canada and other races came under scrutiny after Ms. Miller was disqualified from the 2015 edition of that race, held on July 26. Ms. Miller was originally declared the winner of the female 40-44 division in the 2015 race, earning a slot in the upcoming 2015 Hawaiian Ironman World Championship in Kona. Her 2015 IM Canada win and Kona slot have since been revoked.

The evidence leading to Ms. Miller's DQ in both Ironman Canada races was of the same type: an analysis of photographic evidence and timing data at known points along the course. Photographs showing an athlete in proximity to other competitors can generate a close time estimate even if the athlete's timing chip is missing. Race organizations have used this correlative method as proof of failure to complete a prescribed course. Ironman used it to determine Ms. Miller missed a part of the run course in both races based on the evidence generated.

Of the 2015 Ironman Canada race, Sylvan Smyth of veteran timing company SportStats wrote to Slowtwitch of the 2015 Ironman Canada race, "We have all of her chip times throughout the race until the finish of the bike, then no T2 and nothing on the run course. She finished the bike at 2:17:50pm. Her swim was 57:42 and her bike was 6:15:12. An average T2 time of 4-minutes gives her a run time of 3:27:14. Final time 10:49:03.

"With the 4-minute transition I give her, she did that first 22km in 1:22 and the last 20km in 2:05. She would have had to run sub-2:40 pace for the first 22 km to be in that picture. Not sub 2:40 overall."

SportStats times Ironman's North American races and turned this information over to Ironman. "She was disqualified for failing to complete the entire run course," said Ironman's head of officials Jim Riccitello.

Ms. Miller's computer chip failed to register times at any of the timing mats during the run course in both the 2013 and 2015 Ironman Canada races. It was not the failure to retain a working chip that triggered the DQ. In each race she was disqualified for failure to complete the course.

Ms. Miller has also been retroactively disqualified from Subaru Vancouver Triathlon in July, 2014. That race served as a qualifier for the ITU Long Course World Championships. Ms. Miller won her age group at the ITU Long Course Worlds in Weihai, China, in 2014.

According to Sportstats' Mr. Smyth, whose company timed both the 2015 Ironman Canada and the Subaru Vancouver Triathlon, the DQ for the latter race was based on anomalies in lap times during the bike leg of the race: two of the four laps were considered to be unreasonably fast. "The Vancouver DQ was discussed… with race director Susie Ernsting," said Sportstats' Mr. Smyth. "So officially the DQ is by the RD, supported by timing data."

[NOTE: This article as originally published erred in reporting that the Subaru Vancouver Triathlon in July, 2014 served as a qualifier for ITU Worlds in Weihai, China in 2014. Actually, it qualified Canadians for the 2015 Long Course Worlds recently contested in Sweden. This passage has been edited accordingly].

[Photo: Finisher Pix]