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Ironman head referee Jimmy Riccitello answers your questions about the rules of the sport.
It depends on where and how you peed. If you relieve yourself while in a Porta-Potty or bathroom, you will not be penalized. Peeing outside of a bathroom, in plain view of others, however, should result in a penalty.
Let me start by saying that public urination is illegal in all 50 states. Extreme cases of public urination may even result in being charged with indecent exposure or public lewdness, which, in turn, may require the person to register as a sex offender. Even if an event or federation does not have a specific rule that prohibits peeing during a race, athletes who are witnessed by a race referee peeing in public may still be cited for public nudity (included in all triathlon rules that I’m aware of) or unsportsmanlike conduct.
The only sure way to avoid a penalty is to use one of the Porta-Potties along the course. If there are none, you should take major precautions to relieve yourself somewhere well off the beaten path and/or completely out of sight of any human being—especially a policeman, race referee and your fellow triathletes.
I’m all too familiar with the fact that some triathletes feel that their race entry fee entitles them to do whatever the heck they want, including urinating in front of innocent spectators, passersby, home owners, motorists or race referees, peeing in plain view while serving time in a penalty tent, or in their tri shorts while coasting on their bikes during the middle of a triathlon, and spraying urine (which is unsanitary, by the way) all over themselves and anyone in the vicinity.
As a parent of two young children, I can’t believe that I actually have to say this to adults: None of the above examples are ever acceptable, even if you paid $1 million for your race entry.
Bottom line: If you’re witnessed by a race referee while peeing in public, you will be given a penalty—the severity of which will most likely be determined by the degree of disgustingness associated with the act, or as specified in the rules governing the race and/or as stated in the race’s athlete guide.
So please have some respect for yourself and for others, and think before you pee.
For more than two decades Riccitello was one of the world’s top triathletes. He is now the head referee for Ironman and a multisport coach (Riccitello.com) in Tucson, Ariz.
Have a question for Jimmy? email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.