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Ironman reinstates Svenja Thoes 5 months after Ironman Ireland disqualification

German pro wins appeal and is declared the winner of Ironman Ireland

Photo by: Svenja Thoes Facebook

This story has been updated with additional information on the appeals process provided by Ironman.

Last August Germany’s Svenja Thoes appeared to have won Ironman Ireland, crossing the line in 9:24:54 – just a few minutes ahead of Great Britain’s Simone Mitchell. Thoes was disqualified shortly after the finish, though, for “an instance of alleged outside assistance.”

Thoes appealed the disqualification, and reported in early January that an independent arbitrator (David Sharpe, through Sport Disputes Solution Ireland) had reinstated her as the champion of the event.

“The DQ was overturned by an independent Irish arbitration panel,” Thoes wrote on Instagram. “Thank you to everyone who believed in me and stood by me during this difficult time.”

Related: When will we find out what happened at Ironman Ireland last year?

Ironman has now made a statement confirming that Thoes will be reinstated as the champion of the event:

On 14th August 2022, Svenja Thoes was first female to cross the finish line at IRONMAN Ireland. She was later disqualified on the basis of having received illegal outside assistance.

Contrary to the outcome of prior appeals of her disqualification, an independent court has since called for the disqualification to be overturned, deeming the outside assistance she received as making no difference to the race outcome. As a result, Svenja Thoes will be reinstated as the winner of 2022 IRONMAN Ireland triathlon and IRONMAN can confirm Svenja will receive the winner’s prize money allocation. The original prize money allocations that were paid out and the 2023 IRONMAN World Championship slots that were provided remain intact. IRONMAN remains committed to conduct of athlete policies regarding outside assistance.

Based on Ironman’s statement, it would appear that Mitchell will keep the US$15,000 winner’s pay check (second place at the race received US$9,000) – kudos to Ironman on that front. The prize money went 10 deep in the race, so it would appear Lenny Ramsey, who finished 11th, will keep the $1,000 check she earned when she was declared 10th.

Celebrations were in order as Ellie Salthouse (middle) took top podium spot, Svenja Thoes (left) claiming second and Emma Bilham (right) rounding off the podium in the women’s pro category at Ironman 70.3 Andorra.
(Getty Images for Ironman)

It’s still not clear exactly what the “outside assistance” at the event was, and Thoes has not shared the full documentation from Sport Dispute Solution Ireland. According to Ironman, there were three stages to the appeal process:

Triathlon Ireland provides a three-stage appeal process with level 1 appeal being dealt with as a review of the decision made by the race referee, level 2 appeal a review of the decision made by the competition jury, and level 3 appeal to Sport Dispute Solution Ireland (SDSI).

According to Thoes’ coach, Brett Sutton, “the incident was not a drafting violation, or any other dreamt up scenario, but one great story that any real Ironman triathlete would find great compassion for.”

All of which leaves us wondering the same things we did after Thoes made her initial announcement – wouldn’t it be helpful to provide clarification for exactly what happened at the race in Ireland last year so other pros and age group athletes can learn from the experience?

We’ll provide more updates on this story as they become available.