Editorial > Game Of comparisons, results biased and conflict of Interest.

At the end of year, it’s time to take stock and to elect the athletes of the year. Whatever the sport, and even going in the art, this process is highly debatable and become a game of power.

The elect are generally popular choices and are rarely explained.

Is a high jumper (France) or female bobsleigers (Canada) deserves athletes of the year? There are so many parameters to take into account that the popularity of a sport. For sure politics is involve.

Being recognized as the best footballer in the world is probably much more difficult than in an Olympic sport just counting one hundred practitioners and even then, the best footballer is still dependant of a great team.

Yet we no longer afraid of anything of up to mix the two sexes, and never address the contexts. Yet there is this obsessive need to classify athletes between them. Whether for top honors or for funding, how is it possible to get a truly reliable idea if athletes do not confront each other in the same event.

A classification and even a percentage based on the winner is not a reliable indicator. Last week, we can highlight the Australian initiative with their identification of junior talents. Instead of classifying them according to a test in swimming and running or a race like the traditionally are the various federations for 3 days , hopes had to pass six different tests (Aquathlon, 1000m in athletics, criterium cycling, triathlon and three different distance), the idea is simple, understand before all the athlete’s profile. In triathlon, a result is not always the indication of your talent.

Moreover, triathlon is completely fragmented between all distances and even federations. In this game everyone has become a kind of self- promoter and generally preferred devalued or ignore the performance of others as this will compromise their values. Long distance athletes neglect the short distance and vice versa. There are two separate world. Even if athlete like Gomez or Spirig are able to show success in ITU and Ironman/70.3, it’s impossible to really compare. The world series give us the assurance to see the best competiting at every race. This is not true in Ironman. You can win several titles on the Ironman circuit without a not so competitive field.

At the end of the story, each of the disciplines require different specificities. With multiple distances competitions categories, such as French tell us , there are world champions in all neighborhoods.

In all of these rankings, we are questioning if the athlete involved really attributing the right value of a victory. Even if a win is a win, it’s easy to know that some success were soft.

As we have already mentioned, the performance feeds the ego. For some, the competition is primarily a personal issue, see how far you can go, but for others , it is above all a question of hierarchy in the family.

The need for this feeling above the pack. Do athletes really need this recognition? Just talk to any rational athlete to realize who is able to put their performance in perspective. Of course, it’s all about personal interpretation and depend of the value we give to one sport.

Unfortunately, these rankings can give false impressions and even somehow hurt athletes finding biased results. This whole problem could be easily avoiding wanting classify all together. Memorable performance of the year, emerging talent, the most consistent athlete, etc …

Less spectacular? Probably, but above all more based on quantifiable aspects. So why ever need to rank athletes ? To give them more visibility ? Unfortunately, most of the time, there is always an interest behind more or less obvious. Need to create buzz and generate interest for sponsors…

Unfortunately, it is a fact that annoys us especially in triathlon, it is the conflict of interest. Neutral voice are really rares.  In many case, some personality should be impartial (like journalist), or you must be silenced when you are in the entourage of an athlete. A journalist who will favour an athlete or another one for a false reason will put in danger is credibility. Fact are fact.

This is well understood in some areas, unfortunately the triathlon is very different and some players are assigned the role of BIG influencer.

Sport being small, simple critical of these people will get you out of this family, so you lose your privileges. In some ways, Trimes can speak because we have nothing to lose being not part of the family.

Some athletes choose to remain silent than risk being excluded. In this game, some take the whole place. As a perfect example, Barrie Shepley has published its own national rankings. He officiates as official commentator of the ITU and as coach of some athletes in ITU/Ironman. For sure, he is in a position where it is clearly a conflict of interest.

We are not using his case to do a personal attack but in our volunteer to show why the system is broken and with biased informations, you are not helping at all to create interest. By overestimating success of an athlete, you are creating excepting that some of them will be able to fill.

This does not prevent him from speaking recalling that for several years claiming that classification to Triathlon Canada. The national federation prefers just keep separate disciplines.

How to compare a Top 10 World Series compared to a 70.3 podium on races that never brings together the best in the world. We can probably talk about the impact of a result in the society but it can in no way compare performance. Barrie has yet decided to consolidate the long distance to the short distance.

Its jobs, it’s just not his role to make this classification and it is all the more questionable it is not able to see the problem to bring all these athletes 1 ranking. Having spoken to some of the athletes mentioned, it comes inevitably hurt some athletes and this remains our personal observation but it comes especially favored in its ranking athletes of the C3 group.

Favoritism? How do Sarah-Anne Brault who were in the top 10 ranking prior the grand final can be placed that low in this ranking. Her 4th place in Auckland was at the time, the second best result for an canadian in the world series.

Because she it is not the good side of the fence ? Is Paula Findlay worth 4 of his ranking when she was made ​​a top 20 in the final. Honestly, we can have an argument for each place.

The same male.
Taylor Reid (coached by Barrie) takes the 10th place in the standings before an athlete like Russell Pennock or Xavier Grenier Talavera (North American champion ). For sure, his ranking is dominated by long distance athletes because his eggs are presently there.

Making this ranking to give more visibility to long distance triathlete. Is it valid?

Having talked to several athletes, these words are often more havoc among elites that inverse. Another example is Jan Frodeno had not particularly liked a tweet questioning his faculty to race in cold situation, sort of free attack prior of his race in Mont-Tremblant.

Misinterpretation of us or not, Canadian athletes who are not under the umbrella of Barrie are frequently criticized for his comments races. Kirsten Sweetland being told she runs to his means in Chicago. Yet, she will end up on the podium at the next race…

To be honest, we were asking ourself if our critics we right. When we saw him calling Alicia Kaye the second best triathlete of the year after Gwen Jorgensen. It stops our doubt. She never raced outside United States this year. What about Nicola Spirig, Daniel Ryf, Miranda Carfrae.

Ranking biased? You choose. Unfortunately, often it seems that developers are common in sports. What saddens us most is when communication is no longer a way to share, but above all a way to influence for its own interest, and it is becoming increasingly common.

Click on the links to view an explanation.


Barrie Shepley’s Top Canadian Male Rankings for 2014. 

#1.  Lionel Sanders
#2.  Brent McMahon
#3.  Jeff Symonds
#4.  Andrew Yorke
#5.  Kyle Jones
#6. Trevor Wurtele
#7.  Tyler Mislawchuk
#8. Alex Hinton
#9.  Alexis Lepage
#10. Taylor Reid


#1 Heather Wurtele
#2 Kirsten Sweetland
#3 Angela Duncan Naeth
#4 Paula Findlay
#5 Rachel McBride
#6 Magali Tisseyre
#7 Melanie McQuaid
#8 Sarah Anne Brault
#9 Amelie Kretz
#10 Joanna Brown

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