- I do think most folks in triathlon, especially those who spend enough time to get good enough at it to race at the WC level (but who are not pro and don't make any money from this activity) are people who believe in rules and who are not cheaters. This includes the drafting rule(s).
- In most races, these folks in fact follow the rules pretty much to the letter. (I know there are some who don't but I'm talking about the majority here)
- However, at Kona especially, and at most 70.3WC venues (Las Vegas was different) there are so many athletes racing that are so close to each other in ability on the Swim/Bike, and the Bike course is relatively tame, that it becomes very difficult not to violate the drafting rules (when 20 people pass you and you have to drop back and then go 1.2-1.4X your goal power to get back to where you were--only to have to repeat---this becomes a challenge to just accept)
-These folks adapt to the situation and then begin to bend the rules because everyone else is doing the same and the alternative of playing by the strict letter of the rules seems inherently unfair and is competitively very costly.
-So draft packs form--a statistical analysis of swim exit times and prior bike splits leads one to believe it's inevitable.
-The refs do as good a job as they can but you're talking about policing 2000-3000 people in a dynamic environment where that policing requires observation under sometimes challenging conditions and always requires judgement--which is inherently different for each ref.
-Competitors who see this and are upset about this either complain about those "drafting" or the refs or the lack of refs.
My view is that drafting at the WTC WC level is pretty much a given, even with good intent on most people's part and lots of referees, unless we go to a very different start approach (TT for example). The changes at Kona this year for AGers reflect a bit of this viewpoint...
So our options are to:
--accept it as a design flaw of the WTC WC and especially Kona (not saying to not police it but recognize that it will happen)
--accept it period--don't police it.
-make some significant changes in swim start format (people at Kona are so good you could spread the start out over 3-4 hours--old people first)
Insert Doubt. Erase Hope. Crush Dreams.