A message as remarkable as it is ridiculous from Tampa – where the Ironman headquarters is located – reached the editors of Triathlon Today last night. None other than Ironman CEO Andrew Messick accused the editors of Triathlon Today of ‘not acting as journalists’ and not seeking the truth. Messick’s email is in response to this article from Triathlon Today, which is critical of Ironman’s actions (mainly based on the livestream, ed.) following the fatal accident at Ironman Hamburg.
Messick’s message is notable for several reasons: first, Ironman has never previously responded to Triathlon Today, despite several requests for interviews or requests to get insights in different situations. Second, Messick is now accusing Triathlon Today of saying the written article about Ironman Hamburg is inaccurate. “For the sake of time, I will not dwell on the inaccuracies or bias in your article about Hamburg”, among other things, Messick wrote in his email.
In the article in question, Triathlon Today wrote that thousands of people are furious at Ironman over the fact that there was no mention of the fatal accident in the livestream for hours and that just the opposite happened: commentators continued to speak of “a wonderful day” until the finish of the first athletes, hours after the accident. In addition, Triathlon Today wrote – relying on an article in the German Bild, among others – that an official statement was delayed for hours because permission was first needed from Ironman’s headquarters in Tampa. “One of the leading media outlets in Germany learned – so it writes in an article on which no fewer than seven journalists worked – that Ironman did not respond to the accident for hours because Ironman Germany boss Oliver Schiek was not authorized to issue an official statement. The headquarters in Tampa (Florida, USA) had to be contacted before a publication was allowed. But, in Tampa it was still the middle of the night and so the phone from Hamburg was not answered.”
Messick: ‘Act like a journalist, and that the truth matters’
Messick’s anger seems to be directed at several people who allegedly saw Messick in Hamburg. Something published by Triathlon Today – based on their stories and thus not a claim of our editors – thus leading to anger from the CEO. “I will focus on one outright lie: do I have really to prove that I was at home with my family this past weekend instead of Hamburg? Or do your many unnamed sources who claim to have seen me in Hamburg trump the fact I can prove that I was in the USA?”
Then Messick – who, by the way, sent along no evidence that he was actually in America – can’t resist posting another personal attack in his e-mail addressed to Triathlon Today. “Act like a journalist, and that the truth matters.”
Triathlon Today: ‘Act like a CEO and as a grown man, thanks’
Editor-in-Chief Tim Moria responded personally to Messick. Part of his email: “For me there is no need for you to prove you weren’t in Hamburg. I believe you. Still we got multiple sources who say you were in Hamburg, but for me it doesn’t make any difference. Instead of blaming us for not acting like journalists, please make sure to improve your protocols for terrible incidents like these, since I’ve never witnessed such an embarrassing situation in a livestream before, to be honest. Make sure to check out all the comments (not sure you have done this already, but to me it seems people are not very happy with Ironman’s behaviour in this particular case).”
“So yes: truth matters for sure. Act like a CEO and as a grown man. Thanks!”
Messick addresses only anger Triathlon Today, does not mention terrible accident at all
Perhaps most notable about Messick’s email, is that he in no way let it be known that Ironman failed in its coverage of the fatal accident. In addition, he says nothing anyway about the accident and the terrible consequence for bereaved families.
Messick received huge criticism a few months ago after a standout appearance – in which Messick did not even have the respect to stop his lunch – on the How They Train podcast. Podcast host Jack Kelly asked critical questions of Messick, to which Messick disconnected and left the show. Following that, Kelly was banned from all Ironman events and other podcast hosts were approached by Ironman that they should not ask critical questions in the future and that otherwise they would also be blacklisted.
This is in line with the two interviews Messick gave yesterday regarding the fatal accident in Hamburg – one in the Slowtwitch podcast and one with Triathlon Magazine Canada – in which Messick does not had to answer any critical questions. Both interviews have again led to a series of critical responses. Some of these reactions: