CrossFit Games

Athletes Call for More Standardized Prize Payouts

July 27, 2020 by
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Of the 25 Sanctionals held in the past two seasons, athletes and event organizers have shared wildly different prize payout methods, communication, and timetables that have left some athletes months without a word of when or how prize money will be delivered. The broad inconsistencies has given rise to calls for a more standardized payout process.

The big picture: In the past two seasons, 25 Sanctionals have taken place in nearly a dozen different countries without payouts ranging from just a couple of weeks to nearly six months. After speaking to a dozen athletes and organizers for eight events, it’s clear there’s no clearly defined process or standard for payouts.

  • While prize money may only represent a portion of an athlete’s annual income, some events award $50,000 to the top spot.
  • Several athletes described the situation of being left completely in the dark as to when payments would come, which proved stressful for those who make this sport their livelihood.
  • Pat Vellner told the Morning Chalk Up: “I have experienced a six month wait for prize money, but I have also received payment in cash while standing on the podium.”
  • “For those bigger events we’re filling out financial forms for wire transfer, sometimes even before the event starts. When events finish they set a self-imposed deadline to get all payments out on a deadline. That is the right idea. For most events, that should be their commitment,” he said.

Going deeper: It’s not always a lack of commitment however, event organizers said some factors are outside their control. A representative from Loud and Live Sports —  the host organization for Wodapalooza (WZA), West Coast Classic, Mayan Classic, Madrid Championship and Granite Games — told the Morning Chalk Up that the company’s goal is to pay out winnings within 30 days, but that’s not always possible.

  • According to the spokesperson: “All of Wodapalooza’s winners have been paid, though it took longer than expected due to deciding to wire each winner their funds: collecting signatures and routing numbers was way more difficult than expected for our accounting dept. Lesson learned.”

Drug testing can also be a contributing factor. The organizers of the Brazil CrossFit Championship (BCC) had the prize money ready for distribution three months before they were given the green light from Drug-Free Sport in June.

  • “Similar to the CrossFit Games, the monies for tested athletes can only be paid out once the drug testing process is completed,” the spokesperson added. “The delay is due to government restrictions in the US that caused the temporary closure of the Drug-Free Sports testing lab that processes the samples.”

From the athletes’ perspective’s, overseas payments, offshore accounts and wire transfers can all add to the headache.

  • Harriet Roberts won the Pandaland CrossFit Challenge in Chengdu, China earlier this year and said the biggest fault in the system is the lack of understanding around overseas payments. “From completion of the event, to prize money hitting your account, can take anywhere from 3 weeks to 4-5 months,” she noted.
  • Khan Porter, winner of the men’s division in China described his communication with event organizers as “amazing” as he received his winnings soon after the event.
  • Adam Davidson, however, who took third at Pandaland China and won the Brazilian CrossFit Championship, expressed similar thoughts to Roberts and told the Morning Chalk Up he’d like to see a global standard for payouts across all international competitions, with a payment gateway set up prior. 

A possible solution: Athletes said expectations can be managed with good communication.

  • Brent Fikowski said: “The payment of prize money should not be expected immediately because it takes time to complete drug testing. But there is no reason that prior to registration athletes are told the prize purse, how payment will be made to the winners, the currency, and the expected date of payment. Lack of information regarding the latter three details leads to issues that could be avoided with better planning and communication.”
  • Patrick Vellner added: “The chain of communication is a problem in some of the smaller events ‘cause they may not have someone specifically assigned to handle that. You might be messaging athlete control, Instagram or whoever the point of contact it is you have.”
  • Carlo Strati, director of the CrossFit Italian Showdown, attempts to meet each podium athlete in person and explain the process, including the immediate drug testing before they can leave the venue.
  • “It usually takes less than a week to collect all the info and to get everything set to make all the payments, but at that time we still need to wait for the drug testing results. Depending on the drug testing agency and sports authorities, the entire process may take up to 90 days, including appeals,” Strati stated.

This could be an issue for the recently-established Professional Fitness Athletes Association (PFFA) of which Fikowski and Vellner sit on the executive committee.

  • One of the key functions of the PFAA includes shaping future competition and season planning, read more about the association’s proposed agenda.

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