ITU Congress

The ITU Congress is the general assembly of the members National Federations and Continental Confederations of ITU and is its highest authority.

The 2019 Congress was held in Lausanne, Switzerland alongside the Grand Final.


The International Triathlon Union (ITU) is the world governing body for the sport of Triathlon and its related other Multisports.

Find out more about ITU Governance


ITU History

The first recorded triathlon took place in San Diego, California on September 24, 1974. It was organised by the San Diego Track & Field Club as an alternative to the rigors of training on the track. The race, which took place in San Diego’s Mission Bay, consisted of a 5.3-mile run, followed by a 5-mile cycle and a 600-yard swim in the Bay. A total of 46 athletes finished the race.

Triathlon grew rapidly from its humble beginnings in San Diego and within a matter of years it became one of the fastest growing sports all over the world. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was intrigued by the sport’s meteoric growth and began discussions to include triathlon in the Olympic Games Programme in 1988. Then IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch arranged a meeting in Stockholm that year with the intention of including triathlon in the Olympic Games as soon as possible. At that meeting Canadian Les McDonald was selected as President to a working committee for triathlon, while Sweden’s Sture Jonasson was elected as Secretary.

The International Triathlon Union was founded one year later, on April 1, 1989, at the first ITU Congress in Avignon, France. A total of 30 National Federations attended the initial Congress and preparations were made for the sport’s first World Championships to be held in Avignon in August of 1989. At this meeting the Olympic distance was set at a 1.5-km swim, 40-km bike and 10-km run. More than 800 athletes representing 40 countries competed in the first World Championships. Canada’s Les McDonald was elected as ITU’s first president in 1989.

Since its inception in Avignon, ITU maintained its headquarters in Vancouver, Canada until January 1st 2014 when this moved Lausanne, Switzerland, home of the IOC. From it’s founding ITU has grown to include over 120 affiliated National Federations around the world. ITU began the World Cup series in 1991, staging 11 races in eight countries. The Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championships Series (now the ITU World Triathlon Series) was created as ITU’s top tier race series in 2009, staging eight races in eight different countries.

Triathlon was officially added to the Olympic Programme by the IOC at its Congress in Paris in 1994. Triathlon made its Olympic debut at the 2000 Games in Sydney, with Switzerland’s Brigitte McMahon and Canada’s Simon Whitfield earning the sport’s first gold medals. At Rio 2016, Paratriathlon made its Paralympic debut with six medal events; three men’s and three women’s. For Tokyo 2020, the Mixed Relay event was added to the Olympic Games for the first time.

Spain’s Marisol Casado was elected as ITU’s second president in November of 2008. She became an IOC member in February of 2010 at the 122nd IOC Session in Vancouver.



As an unequivocal confirmation of its commitment to eradicating the use of prohibited substances and methods in triathlon, ITU continues to commit time, effort, energy and a substantial budget to its anti-doping mission.

Find out more about ITU Anti-Doping



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