USAT Most Commonly Violated Rules & Penalties

It’s the competitive age-groupers responsibility to understand and follow complete USA Triathlon regulations.


Helmets: No modifications may be made to the helmet. Helmets must be worn as they were purchased. If the helmet came with a cloth cover, the cover must be on the helmet when competing. Penalty: Disqualification

Chin Straps: Chin straps must be buckled at all times when on a bicycle. DO NOT unbuckle your chin strap unless you are off your bicycle. Penalty: Disqualification on the course; Variable time penalty in transition area only.

Outside Assistance: No assistance other than that offered by race and medical officials may be used. Triathlons and Duathlons are individual tests of fitness.

Penalty: Variable time penalty

Transition Area: All equipment must be placed in the properly designated and individually assigned bike corral. All participants must return their bicycles to an upright position in their designated bicycle corral. No person shall interface with another participant’s equipment or impede the progress of another participant. No participants shall bring ANY glass containers into the transition area (DQ!) Penalty: Variable time penalty

Drafting: Keep at least three bike lengths of clear space between you and the cyclist in front. If you move into the zone, you must pass within 15 seconds.

Position: Keep to the right hand side of the lane of travel unless passing.

Docking: Riding on the left side of the lane without passing anyone and interfering with other cyclists attempting to pass.

Overtaken: Once passed, you must immediately exit the draft zone from the rear, before attempting to pass again.

Penalty: Variable time penalty

Course: All competitors are required to follow the prescribed course and to stay within all coned lanes. Cutting the course is an obvious violation and going outside the course is a safety issue. Cyclists shall not cross a solid yellow line for ANY reason. Cyclists must obey all applicable traffic laws at all times. Penalty: Referee’s discretion

Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Foul, harsh,argumentative or abusive language or other unsportsmanlike conduct directed at race officials, USA Triathlon officials, volunteers,spectators or fellow athletes is forbidden. Penalty: Disqualification

Headphones: Headphones, headsets, etc are not to be worn at any time during the race. Penalty: Variable time penalty

Race Numbers: All athletes are required to wear race numbers at all times during the run. Numbers must face the front and be clearly visible at all times. Numbers may not be cut or folded or altered in any way. DO NOT transfer your number to any other athlete or take a number from an athlete that is not competing. Penalty:Variable time penalty for missing or altered number, Disqualification and one year suspension from membership in USAT for transferring a number without race directors permission.

Wetsuits: Each age group participant shall be permitted to wear a wetsuit without penalty in any event sanctioned by USAT up to and including a water temperature of 78 degrees Fahrenheit.When the water temperature is greater than 78 degrees but less than 84degrees Fahrenheit, age group participants may wear a wetsuit at their own discretion, provided, however that participants who wear wetsuits within such temperature range shall not be eligible for prizes or awards. Above 84 degrees, wetsuits are prohibited.

Abandonment: All personal equipment and belongings taken out onto the course must stay on the athlete the entire time. No garbage, clothing, etc. shall be thrown on the course. Penalty: Variable penalty

Variable Time Penalties (additional time penalties and disqualifications are subject to the discretion of the Race Director)

Distance Category
Short or Sprint
International & Olympic

1st Offense
1:00 minute
2:00 minutes
4:00 minutes

2nd Offense
2:00 minutes
4:00 minutes
8:00 minutes

3rd Offense

For a complete list of rules, please refer to the current USA Triathlon Competitive Rules at: