World Triathlon and the Professional Triathletes Organisation join forces to drive innovation

August 17, 2023

World Triathlon and the Professional Triathletes Organisation (PTO) have inked a new partnership that will recognise the PTO Tour as the official World Championship Tour of long distance triathlon, using the ‘made for TV’ 100km distance.

The ground-breaking agreement will see the two organisations working closely to create a compelling season-long narrative for the world’s leading triathletes, as the long distance equivalent of World Triathlon’s successful World Triathlon Championship Series, that will include championship racing opportunities for both Professionals and Age Groupers.

The key points of the new partnership include:

1) A points-based competition with Professional men’s and women’s World Championship titles awarded at the end of a season-long tour, as well as the planned creation of up to five Continental Championships at one-off races, including: the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

2) All events as non-drafting over the 100km distance (2km Swim, 80km Bike, 18km Run) and operating under World Triathlon rules.

3) Qualification for the Age Group Championships to follow the existing World Triathlon process of National Federations’ selection, with Age Groupers eligible to race in each of the six Championship events, including World and the five Continental Championships.[1]

4) World Triathlon working together with the PTO and its membership on a number of services, including Anti-Doping, Competition Jury appeals, Safeguarding and Manipulation of sport competition guidelines, Technical support with a Technical Delegate from World Triathlon at all events and an extensive Marketing and Commercial collaboration between both organisations.

Commenting on the partnership, World Triathlon President, Marisol Casado, said: “Today marks a significant milestone as World Triathlon proudly announces this ground-breaking agreement with the PTO. This collaboration signifies a powerful alliance that underscores our shared commitment to elevating the sport of triathlon to new heights. By joining forces, we harness the collective passion, expertise and dedication of both organisations to drive positive change and innovation within the triathlon community. Together, we have the opportunity to create a more inclusive, fair, competitive and sustainable landscape for athletes, fans and stakeholders alike. This partnership exemplifies the immense potential that emerges when organisations align their visions and resources, ultimately fostering a thriving environment for the sport we all cherish. As we embark on this journey together, we are resolute in our belief that by working hand in hand, we can steer triathlon towards a brighter, more exciting future.”

PTO Executive Chairman, Chris Kermode, who has previously held a number of leadership positions in tennis, rising to the role of Executive Chairman and President of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), said: “When new formats and organisations emerge in sport, they often have the unintended impact of fragmenting the very sport they aim to promote. In contrast, by uniting together the professional athlete body of the PTO with the international federation of World Triathlon, this partnership has the opportunity to unite the sport under the common goal of growing triathlon – which is essential for the sport to become mainstream.”

PTO CEO, Sam Renouf, himself a former international triathlete and then senior executive at The Active Network, a global leader in growing sports participation businesses, added: “Given the importance of the Olympics and short course racing on the traditional federation funding model, long distance triathlon has largely been left to the ‘private sector’ of for-profit promoters; leading to a fragmented and uncoordinated calendar for both athletes and fans. In partnering together to recognise the PTO Tour as the official tour of long distance triathlon, the PTO and World Triathlon are both elevating long distance triathlon and bringing this part of the sport back into the fold of the World Triathlon family.”

“On the Age Group side, we jointly recognise the uniqueness in triathlon that athletes of any age can strive for and qualify to represent their country in an officially recognised World Championship. The inclusion of Age Group Championship racing throughout the PTO Tour will provide ‘bucket list’ racing opportunities for the global Age Group community, much as the World Marathon Majors have united the global running community.”

Current PTO Athlete Board member and PTO World #6, Paula Findlay, highlighted the importance of the agreement from an athlete perspective:

“As an athlete who’s represented their country at both the Olympics and World Triathlon Championship Series, if you compete and win at the pinnacle of your sport, you want that achievement to be recognised as it is at other distances in triathlon and in all other sports – by calling yourself a world champion. Through the eyes of the professional athletes who set up and co-own the PTO, it is a significant step forward.”

This partnership is not only focused on the launch a new tour of long distance in triathlon, but also on a series of services that World Triathlon and the PTO will be working on together to make the events fairer, more competitive and sustainable. This includes a newly expanded anti-doping program for long distance racing, further details of which will be announced soon.

The Competition Jury appeals will be delivered through the World Triathlon system, including going to the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) when needed. World Triathlon will also provide an extensive athlete support system and will implement the guidelines on Safeguarding as well as technical support, including a World Triathlon Technical Delegate on each stop of the new tour. Plus marketing and commercial collaborations between the organisations.

Former PTO Athlete Board member and current IOC Athletes’ Commission member, Alistair Brownlee, who has competed on the PTO Tour over the last two seasons, underlined the importance of the partnership in bringing the sport together to move forward:

“I want to see more people watching top level long distance triathlon, being inspired by seeing the top athletes racing. It’s crucial that the PTO Tour succeeds and I’m convinced that the PTO Tour’s success is triathlon’s success. It’s tough to create something new but ultimately it will benefit every triathlete, so having the PTO join forces with World Triathlon to also add important support services and work more closely together keeps things moving in the right direction.”