The International Triathlon Union (ITU), triathlon's world governing body, formally passed the baton from Les McDonald to Marisol Casado of Spain. As of November 29 Casado is the new ITU president and McDonald, the only president the ITU has ever known over its two decades of existence, becomes "co-honorary president" along with Gunnar Ericsson of Sweden.
McDonald (pictured with Casado adjacent) announced in 2000 that he would not run in 2004 for the ITU's presidency, only to change his mind and run again. He was not able to run for the presidency in 2008 because of an act of ITU Congress disallowing anyone to stand for the position who is past age-70.
Casado ran for the presidency unopposed. Loreen Barnett, McDonald's longtime ally, was elected to the post of Secretary General. ITU Vice Presidents are now Antonio Alvarez (Mexico), Sarah Springman (Great Britain), Bill Walker (Australia) and Kung-Sun Yu (Korea).
Casado, Barnett and Walker are part of McDonald's inner circle. Walker became the Secretary General in 2000 after McDonald ousted his former right-hand man, American Mark Sisson, after Sisson's refused to take McDonald's side in the ITU's rift with Lifetime Fitness.
But Walker himself fell afoul of McDonald in the lead-up to the Beijing Olympics. This means the ITU Vice Presidents—just below the Presidency in the ITU's heirarchy of power—now number at least two who've been at odds with McDonald in the past. The other is Sarah Springman, who ran against McDonald for the ITU presidency in 2004.
McDonald's posture of belligerence toward any triathlon-based organization of size marginalized the ITU in the increasingly big-business world of sports governance. In 2004 the ITU divorced itself from governing responsibility for Ironman, Lifetime Fitness and Xterra events, and those organizations have only increased in prominence in the interim. Will Casado continue the ITU's posture of enmity toward the sport's largest race promoters, or will she break with McDonald and seek a rapprochement with the sports biggest brands?
No one yet knows. While McDonald employed a strategy of carving a majority out of the one-country, one-vote world of national governing bodies, Casado is considered a consensus builder. Springman has always acted the level head, and Spain, Mexico, Great Britain and Australia—all countries with an Ironman race—are represented in ITU high office.
Nevertheless, the new faces of the ITU are familiar ones and Casado was McDonald's preferred successor.