Ironman Triathlon Competition Fined $2.8 Million For Running Illegal Lottery

The Ironman Triathlon has agreed to forfeit $2.76 million after it illegally charged its athletes for a chance to compete in its world competition, Reuters reported. U.S. prosecutors said on Wednesday that the Ironman franchise would be forfeiting the money it gained from its athletes, Bloomberg reported.

The U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida, Lee Bentley, said in a press release:

“Ironman would have been permitted to give away the opportunity to compete in the race but violated the law when it charged athletes money for the chance to win.”

The Ironman competition held an annual lottery for thousands of athletes who did not quality for the world competition. They were each charged $50 just for a chance to compete in the championship.

The Ironman franchise said in a statement about its lottery for athletes to compete in the championship:

“The Ironman lottery has changed lives and provided athletes of all abilities the opportunity to participate in the world’s most challenging and iconic one day endurance event.”

Competitor Cassie McWilliam, said about being charged by the Ironman Triathlon,

“I feel like a world championship requires world championship athletes… You have people who spend a lot of money and time trying to qualify and rightly earn a spot, and then there are other people who just win a spot? They’re just not good enough to be there.”

Spencer Smith, a former triathlete, said about the Ironman triathlon:

“It may be elitist, but it’s the world championship… Why bother having any qualifying race to begin with?”

The Ironman franchise said that it would no longer have a lottery for its competitors. The company also said that they did not think that having a lottery was wrong. The Florida based company, World Triathlon Corporation which owns the Ironman competition, said about the investigation:

“Ironman chose to settle so that we can focus on our priorities – our athletes and our events. While we do not agree with the U.S. Department of Justice’s interpretation of the relevant statutes or that there has been anything untoward or inappropriate.”

And the company’s attorney, Ed Shohat said that “World Triathlon Corporation denies any wrongdoing,”

Some paid an extra $50 entrance fee to join a club, hoping to increase their odds of competing in the championship race, which includes a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike race and the 26.2 mile run, in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

Those who had already paid for their slot in the upcoming 2015 race will not be turned away from competing.

[Photo credit Joern Pollex/Getty Images Sport]