When Lance Armstrong Wants In, Triathlons Sacrifice Certification For Enrollment Spike
Half Full Triathlon Race Dir Brian Satola said that enrollment has "jumped 20%" since last Thursday's announcement that retired cyclist Lance Armstrong would compete in the event, according to Helliker & O'Connell of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Armstrong "is banned from competitions sanctioned by Olympic governing bodies," but he is America's "only famous endurance athlete." So when he seeks to compete in a triathlon, "his magnetism makes an unthinkable question suddenly thinkable: Does the number of extra enrollments he brings to an event outweigh the loss of certification by USA Triathlon?" For two years running, the Half Full Triathlon "had boasted USAT certification." But when presented with a recent request from Armstrong, Half Full for this year "decided to sacrifice its USAT certification." Satola said that the extra race revenue "advances the Half Full mission of raising funds for cancer, as does Armstrong's cancer-battling track record." He added that he would "permanently trade USAT certification for Armstrong's participation." Helliker & O'Connell note Sunday's Superfrog Triathlon near San Diego also "quickly dropped its USAT bid and announced that Armstrong would compete." The news prompted a "spike in registration to a record 825 entrants, at a registration fee as high as $275 each." Armstrong is the "first athlete to face a serious doping case without losing his popularity," in part because it is "invaluable to the attention-challenged sports he favors." Triathlon is "so poorly followed a sport," that even its premier event -- next month's Ironman World Championship -- receives "no live coverage outside of being streamed onto Ironman's own Web site." However, after Superfrog announced that Armstrong would compete in its triathlon, Superfrog Race Dir Mitch Hall "received a call from ESPN exploring the possibility of televising the event" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/27).