The Senator With A Triathlon Problem

Let me start this off by noting on the political spectrum I’m as far left as you can get, so this isn’t a right-wing bullshit factory article. I’ve actually done research and provide you with my linked sources. That being said today we’ll look at the triathlon problem of a sitting Democratic Senator.

Senator Sinema has been gifted a Kona slot and three 70.3 Worlds slots from 2015 to 2019. The Kona slot is guaranteed a gift, the other three have a tiny chance of being roll downs, but I dismiss that as it’s pretty damn hard to get lucky that many times being as far down as she was in her age group for all of her 70.3 races in that time.

In the 2014/2015 Kona qualifying window Sinema did not race a full distance event. At that time she was a sitting congresswoman and you’d think the nice, neat hour long NBC special with the pros, celebrities and feel good stories would have had someone of her stature on the show…why didn’t they? They had Sean Astin. If you watch the special you’ll hear the announcer say “Everyone has earned their place at Kona.” Well it’s a verifiable fact that Kyrsten Sinema did not (and neither did the guy who played Rudy, they should have given the spot to the real Rudy).

There’s a problem with politicians receiving gifts, Senate (and House) gift rules are explicit about anything over the value of $50 being generally banned [1]. Anything over $50 that is not available to a class of people is against ethics rules [2]. A Kona entry is worth about $1,000 and a 70.3 Worlds entry is $495, which exceeds the $50. It is possible she was given an entry but paid fair market value for it, but still she received something that she did not earn.

Now from 2015-2019 IRONMAN was owned by the richest man in China (until 2017) [3], Wang Jialin. Wang has been a member of the Communist Party of China since 1976 and still maintains a close relationship [4]. He is still a delegate in the Chinese National People’s Congress [5]. According to the New York Times some quasi-sketchy shit went down in 2015 before Dalian Wanda dropped their IPO, relatives of high ranking party officials amassed a stake in the company and it appreciated to over $1.1 billion when they went public [6]. It turns out Wang’s personal motto is “stay close to the government but distant from politics” [7]. I’m sorry, but the Chinese government will use you how Xi sees fit, even billionaires are just tools to him. Hell a billionaire went MIA for a while after criticising Beijing. The man in question, Jack Ma, said he was just “laying low” for a few months after pissing off the CCP [8], so if he wasn’t scared why would he need to pull a Houdini?

So why did I go into all that? Well you can consider Wang Jianlin a foreign National [9]. Foreign nationals can’t make campaign donations [10], but a Kona entry (or 70.3 Worlds) isn’t that. The question will really be will Sinema get a slot to Kona or 70.3 Worlds now that Chinese ownership of IRONMAN is out? If she doesn’t does that mean Wang Jianlin was giving her those slots as a political favor? The qualifying period for 2021 Kona and 70.3 Worlds ends June 30.

It’s worth noting that then Congresswoman Sinema sat on the Committee for Financial Services during her time in the House [11]. I don’t know all that much about the inner workings of politics on Capitol Hill, so I won’t speculate to what interest a foreign entity may have in that.

Next let’s look at Senator Sinema’s voting record, and folks the 2021 triathlon season is now underway—she’s going to miss a lot of votes. I don’t know how this compares to the rest of Congress but it looks like she misses a lot of votes (including the January 6th commission vote last week). If you match the votes missed record with her Athlinks record you’ll see which votes were missed because she went to triathlons. She missed at least half of March 2019 to go race IRONMAN New Zealand and IRONMAN 70.3 Puerto Rico [12] and the Senate only sat 168 days in 2019 [13]. I should also note she never does local triathlons—Rev3 Williamsburg, IRONMAN Eagleman 70.3, IRONMAN Atlantic City 70.3 are all within the Mid-Atlantic region can be done on a weekend without missing a single vote (excluding IRONMAN Maryland which requires participants to be there Thursday, Friday and Saturday). There are also many independent races within 100 mile radius of DC that can be done without missing any work…she just refuses to do them.

Now Senator Sinema typically sponsors legislation about veterans and Veteran’s affairs, however I did come across this nugget in my research [14]:

S. 2570 (116th): Greg LeMond Congressional Gold Medal Act.

A bill to award a Congressional Gold Medal to Greg LeMond in recognition of his service to the United States as an athlete, activist, role model, and community leader.

I have never heard of the Congressional Gold Medal before. This bill was actually signed by Trump and enacted on December 4, 2020 [15]. This happened pretty quietly, I guess it kind of got lost in the news cycle because of the Big Lie, which ironically Greg LeMond fought against Lance Armstrong’s Big Lie about his doping [16]. Not so funny: this is one of the few good things Congress passed that actually got enacted into law during the Trump Administration. Sinema had a minor role in this coming to fruition, it was mostly championed by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) [17].

IRONMAN did not respond to my inquiries about this article (they never do), even if they had they might not have been able to provide me with anything useful as there has been an ownership change and turnover within the corporation. Senator Sinema also did not respond to my requests for an interview.

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