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German Triathlon Union questions ethics of Ironman Worlds painkiller sponsor

Athletes compete during the run portion of the Ironman World Championships (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

The German Triathlon Union (DTU) has expressed its unease over pain relief brand Aleve’s sponsorship of the 2019 Ironman World Championships, which take place in Hawaii tomorrow (Saturday).

During the event, a prize will be awarded to the athletes who can run a certain mile of the marathon in the fastest time, with the Bayer Group-owned Aleve sponsoring the initiative.

The initiative has been dubbed the ‘No Pain, No Gain Mile Challenge’ and Aleve will provide the prize for the winner. The DTU has been strong in its criticism of the agreement, which it feels is ethically questionable.

DTU anti-doping representative Christoph Simsch was quoted by the DPA press agency as saying: “From a medical as well as an ethical point of view, we cannot approve of this partnership.”

Simsch added: “The message conveyed to age-group athletes, namely to use painkillers to be able to cope better with training and competition, is ethically more than questionable.”

The sponsorship between the Wanda-owned Ironman and Aleve was announced on September 17.

Upon the announcement of the deal, Matthieu Van Veen, Ironman’s chief revenue officer, said: “Whether during training or after the big event, these athletes need safe and effective solutions that allow them to address the muscle aches and pain that could hold them back from being their best. This is why the collaboration with Aleve for the Ironman World Championship is such a perfect match.”