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

Germany's Svenja Thoes reports that she's been reinstated as the champion of the race held last August

After coming across the line first at Ironman Ireland last August, Germany’s Svenja Thoes (pictured above at the 2019 Ironman World Championship) was disqualified for “an instance of alleged outside assistance,” according to Ironman officials. The German, who had crossed the line in 9:24:54, was taken out of the results list and Simone Mitchell (9:27:49) was declared the winner.

Thoes posted on social media channels immediately that she would be appealing the disqualification:

Thoes has now reported that an independent arbitrator (David Sharpe, through Sport Disputes Solution Ireland) has 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.”


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While the Professional Triathletes Organisation has updated the results from the event on its site, Ironman has not made any changes to the official results on the Ironman Ireland page. We’ve reached out to Ironman, but haven’t received any response. As of yesterday, Thoes had not heard anything from the company, either. We have also reached out to Triathlon Ireland, who was named as the “respondent” in the appeal (Ironman limited was named a third party), and will update this story if we hear back from the organization.

Thoes was able to show us a portion of the document showing that she had been successful in her appeal, but did not share any of the details around the decision.

So what happened at Ironman Ireland last August?

After she won Ironman Emilia-Romagna last September, Thoes’ coach, Brett Sutton, wrote on trisutto.com┬áthat she “was controversially disqualified after the winning presentation had taken place. She was then the subject of cruel attacks on social media when there was little, or no clarification of what the disqualification was for. As there was an official protest, Svenja was prevented from publicly commenting on the incident.”

“I can only say that 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,” Sutton continued.

All of which leaves us with many more questions than answers. Since Thoes had already qualified for Kona, her win, DQ and subsequent reinstatement makes absolutely no difference on that front. Typically prize money isn’t distributed in a case like this until the appeal has been completed, so, other than having to wait for their check, the pros should eventually get their earnings.

The decision is big news for Thoes, obviously, who will likely see decent revenue bump thanks to the $15,000 prize money from Ironman Ireland, along with a likely move up the PTO World Ranking when her Ireland win is added, will likely more than offset the arbitration costs.

Maybe triathlon fans shouldn’t expect, or have a right, to find out what happened at Ironman Ireland last year, but now that the protest has been resolved, it seems fair to expect that some clarification over what happened is provided. Could other pros learn from the experience? What was the “great story” that Sutton referred to – could that provide inspiration for others, too?

We’ll provide more updates on this front if any come available.