Elite triathletes and duathletes, also called pros, are those who have taken the sport to the next level. Whether they compete in ITU, Ironman, XTERRA, short course duathlon, Powerman or at the Olympic distance, these competitors have dedicated a great portion of their lives to being the best that they can be.

Some elites train and compete full time. Some hold part-time and full-time jobs outside of the sport, using their spare time to train.

USA Triathlon through grants acquired from the United States Olympic Committee supports its Elite athletes, concentrated on the Olympic distance, draft- legal format, through its National Teams Program, which provides the best of the best with training and coaching opportunities and elite clinics. It has also developed a program to identify top junior athletes and get them on the road to pro/elite status.

The main distinction between an elite and amateur athlete is that elite athletes have an elite license issued by USA Triathlon which enables them to compete for prize purses of $5,000 or greater at USA Triathlon sanctioned events.



Athletes wishing to race as an elite triathlete/duathlete or off-road triathlete in any USAT sanctioned event must hold a USAT elite license in their respective category. Elites are approved for elite licenses according to the elite athlete qualification criteria.



Please note USA Triathlon enforces two sets of rules for elites at races offering prize purses of $5,000 or more, ITU drafting rules and USAT non-drafting rules. If an event does not have a pro or elite wave, elites must follow amateur rules. The only time USAT will not enforce ITU drafting rules or USAT non-drafting elite rules at a race offering a prize purse of $5,000 or more is when the race organizers seek and are approved for dispensation from the USA Triathlon Executive Director.



Letter From Commissioner of Officials

What is the most important rule for elite athletes to obey?

There is a great deal of material in the USAT Competitive Rules.  How can one narrow it all down to just one rule?  In my opinion, the most important rule is GO TO THE PRERACE MEETING!  It’s also a rule, which many fail to follow and end up being penalized on race day for something that was announced at the meeting but they never heard.

In pro-rules events, those that have more than $5000.00 in prize money, we send the most skilled and experienced officials in order that the elite field can have a fair race.  The official’s duty prior to the start of the race is education.  Head referees are required to be present at the pro meeting and to explain to YOUR satisfaction how the rules will be enforced.  At events where I am the head official, I like to take roll, since there is a strong correlation with absence from the pro meeting and penalties on race day. You should come to the meeting, listen intently, and ask questions until you are completely confident that you understand exactly what is going to be enforced, and what the officials are looking for on the course.  Listen to what others are asking and how the official reacts to the questions.

After the meeting, think over some hypothetical situations and how the position rules might apply. What is the best way to stay out of violation when you pass a group of cyclists? What happens if age groupers overtake you? Whatever questions may arise after the meeting should be addressed to the referee in transition prior to race start.

The great majority of elite athletes who receive penalties on race day failed to attend the pre-race meeting. I know this because I always ask when I stand someone down. Don’t ever think of the pre-race meeting as a waste of time. The real waste of time is when you are standing next to your bike and an official while all your peers fly by.

I am always available to answer your rules questions by email or phone. I wish you success!

Charlie Crawford
USA Triathlon Commissioner of Officials