Tire Deflator Apologizes

Kristen Johnson, also known as Kristen Michelle Tamburrino, the athlete disqualified for deflating a fellow competitor’s bicycle tire in the transition area, has admitted to and apologized for a "wrong" and "bad decision." Presumably she referred to the behavior for which she was disqualified from the Ironman 70.3 Syracuse this past weekend. Via a Facebook message she wrote to Slowtwitch editor-at-large Herbert Krabel:

"I was under so much pressure to perform, and I made a wrong decision, and am sincerely sorry of my actions. I don't know why I did it, and I cannot even believe I did it. I am not a horrible person, just someone that made an impulsive, bad decision, and I know that I need some serious help.

"Please note that I have been accepted to a mental health facility to be treated for an eating disorder beginning tomorrow. This incident has made me realize how much help I need, despite being an accomplished athlete. I have been hiding with this illness for a long time, and although it is no excuse for my actions, I do believe it is one of the reasons why I can't make good decisions. I do not expect to return to the sport anytime soon, although I do hope that with evidence of treatment and recovery, I will be one day race again.”

Ms. Johnson truly is an accomplished triathlete, placing 4th in the women’s 40-44 age group at the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii last year, and she’s formerly an age group winner at XTERRA Worlds in Maui. Her former coach, from Team Edge, a moderately-sized coach-based club with about 90 members, said of Ms. Johnson, "She hasn’t been with us since January. There was a falling out in January. She’s her own coach now. But she’s still connected with the community. We were blindsided by this. This is awful.”

She has had a difficult recent past. She was arrested in 2014 for "fraud not exceeding $5,000” and “Possession of property obtained by crime not exceeding $5,000”, and pled guilty to the latter charge. A teacher by trade, she was the subject of a disciplinary hearing held by the Ontario College of Teachers stemming from the “possession of property obtained by a crime” incident and as a result of the hearing the Committee found that her, "dishonest and illegal conduct warrants a reprimand by her peers.” The Decision noted that "The Member sought to introduce new evidence during her submissions, in the form of a medical note from her physician dated May 1… the Committee gave little weight to these submissions about the Member’s medical history…”

In a notice of an upcoming hearing the Ontario College of Teachers alleges that Ms. Johnson, during April of 2016, falsified her attendance record; used paid “Family Care Days” when she was not entitled to do so; provided false information about the reasons for absence from work; was absent from school to participate in the Boston Marathon, without permission.”