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Time Penalties

By USA Triathlon | March 01, 2014, 4:35 p.m. (ET)

Last week we looked at the reasons for having rules in triathlon. This week we will jump ahead to Article 3.7 — Time Penalties.

Article 3.7 states the length of time penalties as dictated by the distance of the bike portion of the event. In a short race, a 2-minute penalty should be a fair remedy for a rule violator. As the race distances increase, the time it takes to finish increases. Longer races have longer penalties. The longer penalty in longer distance events serves to punish the offender proportionately.

Participants cited for multiple violations receive much longer time penalties, since the penalties are added together. For example, if you are in an intermediate race and receive two citations, your overall penalty totals 6 minutes (2 minutes for the first, 4 for the second), and that time will be added to your finish time. Three violations in one event will result in disqualification.

Here is the rule as it appears in the USA Triathlon Competitive Rules:

3.7 Time Penalties.
a. In General. A time penalty may be imposed for a violation of any section of these rules in which a time penalty is expressly authorized. In the event that a participant is assessed a time penalty, the applicable time period shall be added to that participant's aggregate finishing time in calculating official race results. Except as otherwise provided in Section 3.7B of these rules, time penalties shall be cumulative and a participant may be assessed more than one time penalty for violations of the same rule.
b. Variable Time Penalties. A "variable time penalty" as used in these rules shall mean a time penalty that varies in accordance with the distance category of the event, as defined by the length of the cycling course. The variable time penalty for each of the distance categories shall be the following:

Distance Category

First Offense

Second Offense

Third Offense


Cycle course less than 50k

2 minutes

4 minutes



Cycle Course 50k to 100k

4 minutes

8 minutes



Cycle course greater than 100k

6 minutes

12 minutes


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Click here for more information on USA Triathlon Rules.

Have a question about the USA Triathlon Competitive Rules? Please contact Charlie Crawford.