Liam Morgan

Incumbent Marisol Casado and Mads Freund are this week entering the final stage of their respective campaigns for the Presidency of World Triathlon.

To put it in triathlon parlance, Casado and her Danish challenger are approaching the latter section of the run having already battled it out over the swim and the cycle.

If the election was a race, there is little doubt Casado, the Spaniard who was first elected President in 2008, would have started with a considerable advantage, given how long she has occupied the role coupled with her status as an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member.

For those with a fondle for a flutter, Casado would be listed as the favourite. But Freund, the head of Triathlon Denmark, has slowly been chipping away since the campaign began.

Freund, who has seemingly enlisted the help of a multinational communications firm to help with his bid for the top job, has been an active presence on social media and held a townhall meeting earlier this week to gather feedback from members on his plans should he unseat the incumbent.

Whether that has been enough for him to catch Casado will not be known until Sunday (November 29), when World Triathlon is due to hold its virtual General Assembly.

Both candidates require a simple majority and are looking at a magic number of 86 votes to secure victory. World Triathlon has 172 members but two – Pakistan and Myanmar – are suspended and are ineligible to cast their choice in the election.

An undisclosed amount of National Federations are also in "bad standing" with World Triathlon because of non-payment of fees, and may also be excluded. In a move that may raise eyebrows, the administration has extended the deadline to send their dues to the organisation so they can tick the online ballot box for either Casado or Freund.

Marisol Casado and Mads Freund have entered the final stages of their campaign for World Triathlon President ©ITG
Marisol Casado and Mads Freund have entered the final stages of their campaign for World Triathlon President ©ITG

The vote itself will follow a campaign which, while lower key because of the coronavirus pandemic and the entailing travel restrictions that the global health crisis brings, has included more than a touch of the bitterness, accusations and counterclaims that accompany contested elections in almost all fields and sectors.

A complaint filed against Casado and two other senior officials by five aggrieved members of the World Triathlon Tribunal, first revealed by insidethegames, has been the headline development in the lead-up to the vote.

Casado was urged to resign in the legal document, sent to the IOC Ethics Commission and which accused the three officials of "gross and multiple violations of the values, principles and regulations" of the organisation and the Olympic Movement.

The Spaniard, secretary general Antonio Arimany and Legal and Constitution Committee chairperson Bernard St-Jean denied wrongdoing, with Casado claiming the complaint – which centred on a dispute regarding a race in Habana earlier this year and allegations Tribunal members had been blocked from standing for re-election – was sent to influence the vote.

Casado appeared to have doubled down on that opinion in the wake of the IOC Ethics Commission finding "no evidence of any personal unethical behaviour" and ruling that it had no jurisdiction to intervene in an "internal International Federation matter".

World Triathlon President Marisol Casado has been an IOC member for a decade ©World Triathlon
World Triathlon President Marisol Casado has been an IOC member for a decade ©World Triathlon

"It has been demonstrated that the Tribunal has put a complaint without any evidence and with the only purpose to interfere in the elections, due to take place next Sunday 29th of November and that the five Tribunal Members, all lawyers, did not follow the internal rules of World Triathlon regarding where to file their complaint and they only tried to damage the reputation of these three people," read a statement from World Triathlon today.

"World Triathlon and its President, secretary general and chair of the Legal and Constitution Committee are confident that we will have a serene election and that no other personal interests will perturb the elections."

While the IOC clearing Casado of wrongdoing represents a boost to her campaign, the complaint was sent to all Federations set to vote in Sunday’s election. Put simply, the whole electorate is aware of it.

It will be interesting to see whether it has any impact on the outcome. I suspect not, but the Casado camp will certainly not be resting on their laurels.

WADA claims dried blood spot testing is progressing well - but is the "game-changing" method any closer to being implemented?

There was a fair bit of, albeit largely institutional, news from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Foundation Board meeting earlier this month.

One nugget which caught my eye was a brief mention of the dried blood spot project being led by the likes of WADA, the IOC and the International Testing Agency.

DBS, as it is known in sport's alphabet soup of acronyms, has been widely touted as a "game-changer" for anti-doping. IOC President Thomas Bach has described it as a "method that could very well revolutionise the anti-doping fight".

Since Bach made those comments in November 2019, there does not appear to have been much concrete progress with DBS, where a blood sample is taken with a simple prick of the finger. 

An update on the project sent to insidethegames by a WADA spokesman contains much of the same language as a year ago. There is talk of the overall target of DBS being a routine part of drug-testing by Beijing 2022 and suggestions parts of it could be implemented in time for the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics next year, without any real clarity on where the watchdog is at with its development.

Dried blood spot testing has been hailed as a possible game changer by anti-doping officials ©Twitter
Dried blood spot testing has been hailed as a possible game changer by anti-doping officials ©Twitter

"The primary objective of this project has always been to develop dried blood spot (DBS) testing for routine implementation in time for the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Beijing." the spokesman said. 

"That remains the goal. An additional objective is for aspects of DBS testing to be implemented for the 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo. This could include the application of some analytical methods that involve processing of blood samples by spotting onto DBS paper. In addition, several research projects to support the development and implementation of DBS testing are progressing well."

Tim Ricketts, the director of standards and harmonisation at WADA, said during the Foundation Board meeting that he was "hopeful" it would be ready for the Beijing Games. 

The development of DBS - which WADA believes could lead to a quicker and easier system that would allow for more tests and, in turn, the potential to catch more cheats - is certainly one to keep an eye on in the build-up to Tokyo 2020.