Triathlon Digest: Tuesday, February 3, 1998
Vol. 2, No. 23
Published by Triathlon Central
In This Issue:
* Serving Les McDonald (from various)
* USA Triathlon responds to Ironman lawsuit (from Rob Perry)
Notes from Katherine:
This issue of Triathlon Digest focuses on the lawsuit brought by
World Triathlon Corp., the owner and organizer of the Ironman triathlon,
against ITU and ITU president Les McDonald. The first item came to the
attention of Triathlon Digest from several sources - none of which was the
WTC, I want to clarify.
It's an unusual posting - it's the notes of the process server who
eventually served the legal papers to McDonald. When I contacted WTC for
fact-checking, I received the following response from WTC:
"We're somewhat reluctant to see this information released publicly
aren't trying to embarrass anyone. More importantly, our lawsuit stands on
its own in addressing our feelings about the current governance of the
I post the process server's notes without further comment, as the
first item in the Digest.
NOTE TO SERVICE OF LES McDONALD
November 25th 1997
A man [whom I didn't know, but whom] I now have identified as Les McDonald
by virtue of the magazine article [and photo sent to me by WTC] answered
the door and told me Les McDonald was in Australia .
November 26th 1997
A woman answered [whom I now know to be Mrs. McDonald, but whom I didn't
know at the time] and told me Les McDonald was not home and was very
evasive as to when he would be [at home].
November 27th 1997
No answer at the door.
November 26th 1997
Phoned the [McDonald] home and asked for Les McDonald. He answered [the
phone] and told me he was just leaving for Whistler. I immediately went to
the [McDonald] house and as it happened the mailman was just delivering the
mail. Les McDonald [whom I didn't know at time because I had not as yet
received his picture] was collecting it from [the mailman]. I approached
and [the man who was] Les McDonald told me that Les McDonald had already
left for Whistler and that the address was 2512 Whistler Road.
On numerous other occasions there was no response at the door although it
was evident the house was occupied.
I also attended the [ITU] office on Esquimalt Ave. with no success.
January 12th 1998
I attended the [McDonald] home at 7:00 pm and the wife [Mrs. McDonald]
answered the door. I asked for Les McDonald and she said he was not home.
I confronted her by saying I could see him through the window at the
kitchen table. She shut the door. I then rang the doorbell several times
with no response.
I then banged on the front window in full view of Les McDonald. He made no
response, refusing to look at me. I then went to the side window, no more
than five feet from Les McDonald and banged on the window. He again refused
to look up. Then I went back to the front door and noticed it was open. I
went into the entrance and looked around the corner [and] looked at Les
McDonald who still refused to look up.
I said, "Les McDonald, I am leaving your documents on the chair beside the
Subject: Ironman news
USA Triathlon Answer to Ironman Lawsuit: Says ITU Forced Action Against
Tarpon Springs, Fla., February 2, 1998: USA Triathlon (USAT), a defendant
along with the International Triathlon Union (ITU) and its president Les
McDonald in a lawsuit filed by the owner of the Ironman Triathlon sports
brand, conceded in its initial U.S. Federal Court response that it may have
acted wrongfully against Ironman. But USAT defended its actions by
claiming ITU forced its hand.
USAT's response states that it "affirmatively objected to, voted against or
argued against many of the wrongful acts alleged on the part of ITU." USAT
also states in its answer that "any breach of contract on [its] part was
involuntary and was required and compelled by the ITU and is the sole
responsibility of the ITU."
ITU is the sport of triathlon's international federation. USAT is
triathlon's U.S. national governing body, and ITU claims that USAT is under
its control. The World Triathlon Corp. (WTC), which organizes the Ironman
Triathlon, has accused ITU of trying to create an illegal monopoly over the
commercial aspects of the sport, and of using its rule-making authority in
the sport to create an anti-competitive business climate.
WTC began the litigation in October 1997 following USAT's withdrawal of its
sanction for the 1997 Ironman Triathlon World Championship. WTC asserted
the withdrawal of the sanction was wrongful and was done by USAT at ITU's
direction because ITU objected to WTC using the words "triathlon world
championship" in its event title. A month later, WTC added broader
McDonald only recently was personally served with a copy of the summons and
complaint in the lawsuit after almost two months of trying by a process
server. McDonald has until early February to respond. ITU's treasurer
also was served with a summons and complaint in Los Angeles in November 1997.
USAT's initial response to the lawsuit also contains the admission that WTC
is correct when it alleges that ITU has coupled gaining Olympic eligibility
through participation in the ITU World Cup series as part of an ITU attempt
to force athletes to choose between competing in the Ironman Triathlon
World Championship or the Olympics.
WTC also asserts that ITU and McDonald have engaged in a pattern of
intimidation, boycotts and punishment against athletes and business
interests deemed by ITU to be dissenters or competitors of ITU's business
operations. Those alleged to have been injured by ITU's anti-competitive
conduct include athletes suspended from competing in ITU competitions
following their participation in an ITU boycotted "World Cup" event in
Queensland, Australia, in 1995; Online Sports International, another
Australian group that produced an ITU-boycotted race series that ITU deemed
to be in competition with its World Cup series; and a number of other
independent triathlon businesses whose principals had spoken out against
A full copy of the lawsuit is available upon request from the United
States Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division. It also
can be accessed on the World Wide Web at http://ironmantri.com. Other
Ironman-related media requests can be made to Rob Perry at 813-942-4767,
Inquiries to USAT should be directed to officials at the organization's
Colorado Springs, Colo., headquarters. McDonald and ITU offices are
located in Vancouver, B.C., Canada.
Editors' Background on WTC and Ironman Triathlon:
The World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) is based in Tarpon Springs, Fla.,
and also operates an office in Kona, Hawaii. WTC, and its principal owner,
Dr. James P. Gills, acquired the rights to the Ironman Triathlon trademark
and Ironman Triathlon World Championship in 1989. WTC produces the
championship race in Kona, Hawaii, each October and oversees qualifying
procedures and events leading to the championship event. This includes
eight international races licensed as iIronman Triathloni events.
ITU president McDonald is a five-time finisher of the Ironman Triathlon
World Championship and a former age-group Ironman world champion.
End of Triathlon Digest, which is sponsored by Triathlon Sourcebook. Please