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Ironman Florida court battle could have serious implications for all future Ironman races

Posted Jul 07 2009 5:15pm

Swim_Mass

There is a court battle going on in Panama City, Florida that started this week that could have serious implications for all future Ironman races.

The basic facts of the case are not under dispute.  "Barney Rice, 35, of Kalispell, Mont., suffered a heart attack on the second leg of the 2.4-mile swim at the start of the 2006 triathlon at Panama City Beach," according to the Panama City NewsHerald.com.

What is at stake is of course the question of responsibility for Rice' s death.

Was the tragic death the fault of North American Sports and the World Triathlon Corporation or was the ultimate responsibility in the hands of Mr. Rice?

The defense argued today that, "Ultimately, the responsibility is going to be on Mr. Rice," Larry Matthews told jurors in his opening statement, "to say, ‘Hey, maybe I need to quit. Hey, maybe I need to get assistance. Maybe I need to sit this event out.' "

On the other side of the courtroom, "Panama City attorney John Boggs said triathlon participants have an expectation that event organizers will follow their own safety plans in an effort to guarantee the athletes' safety. He said Ironman Florida failed to follow its own plan on the number of spotters, lifeguards, boats and safety personnel."

So in the days and perhaps weeks to come a jury of eight Florida residents will decide who' s responsible for the safety and welfare of Ironman athletes.

Is it the athlete or the race organizers?

And the eventual outcome of their decision could have repercussions throughout the world of Ironman racing.

Stay tuned...

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