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Ironman officials confirmed this week a policy they had announced in early March: No Russian or Belarusian athletes will be permitted to compete at world championship events, including the Ironman World Championship happening in St. George, Utah on May 7.
After Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a war in Ukraine at the end of February, Ironman released a statement on March 2 both canceling the 70.3 St. Petersburg race scheduled for July and instituting a policy that barred athletes from those countries. No professional athletes from Belarus or Russia are currently allowed to compete at any Ironman brand event, and no age-group athletes are being permitted to compete under those flags at world championship races.
Ironman officials confirmed that athletes who had registered under those nationalities were notified at the time of the announcement and were given the option of deferring to 2023.
Unlike World Triathlon events, which are run through a national federation, Ironman races (and most triathlons) are privately run by race organizers and age-group athletes are asked to self-declare their nationality when registering. Ironman officials, therefore, also confirmed that those athletes who had registered as Russian or Belarusian, but who had dual citizenship or nationality, were allowed to change their registered country affiliation provided they showed a valid additional passport. Those athletes are now eligible to race representing their secondary country.
The most high-profile of these athletes is likely Super League Triathlon’s co-founder Leonid Boguslavsky, who has dual Russian and Canadian citizenship. Considered one of the wealthiest men in the world by Forbes, Boguslavksy released a statement back in March condemning the Ukrainian war and noting he has lived in Canada for much of his adult life and has worked all over the world. He had previously qualified for the 2021 Ironman World Championship by earning a spot in his age-group at an Ironman event last year, and is currently on the bib start list as representing Canada.
According to Ironman officials, the number of triathletes this affected for the world championship in St. George was a fraction of a percent—making it fewer than 20 athletes. No pros from those countries had qualified.
While the Boston Marathon, held last week, also instituted a similar ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes competing, that announcement came less than two weeks before the race and athletes were told additional communications on options wouldn’t come until later in the spring.
Ironman’s policy is currently in place for all world championship events, but it is not clear if the war ends if the policy will be reconsidered for the 2022 Ironman World Championship in Kona and for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship back in St. George in October.