Opinion: Wilde was denied fair crack at triathlon gold - and so was rival

New Zealander Hayden Wilde is consoled after his second-place finish in the Commonwealth Games triathlon in Birmingham.

The alleged unclipping of a helmet cost Hayden Wilde, Alex Yee, and all of us watching either live in Birmingham or on television the opportunity of a truly epic finish to a Commonwealth Games triathlon race for the ages.

It was an alleged unclipping that, to the naked eye, at full pace, looked absolutely nothing like an infringement; an alleged unclipping that, even after every slow-motion replay, still couldn’t be determined.

And World Triathlon’s findings today into dismissing the appeal confirm that.

“The World Triathlon Tribunal… determined that in the absence of evidence of the penalty being imposed in ‘bad faith’, they would defer to the judgement of the officials on the ground, giving deference to a decision that was made on the ‘field of play’,” Triathlon New Zealand’s release stated.

If World Triathlon’s tribunal can’t find evidence to support the on-course officials’ ruling either in super-slow-motion or in stills, does that not mean that watching it at full speed and determining the helmet was indeed removed early would be nigh-on impossible?

Bizarrely, it took nearly four months for a decision to be made; four confusing months where, I’m told, lawyers between both parties continued to go back-and-forth over whether the decision should be overturned.

This isn’t something that should be determined between lawyers. This is a clear-cut question of whether Wilde illegally started to remove his helmet in the final transition or not.

Hayden Wilde congratulates friend and rival Alex Yee at the finish line in Birmingham.

If there’s not enough evidence to prove he did remove it early, the decision should be reversed. Don’t we live by the notion that someone’s innocent until proven guilty? Apparently they can't prove that. Nobody can.

It’s impossible to know whether Wilde would’ve beaten Yee or not.

The Kiwi is adamant he felt strong and, were it not for the penalty, would’ve been able to drop the Englishman and race away for gold.

We’ll never know and, in fairness, Yee looked incredibly strong, too. But Wilde was robbed of that opportunity, we were robbed of a race, Yee was robbed of the chance to stand atop the podium without any questions asked.

I was fortunate enough to be there watching every tense bit of the men’s triathlon unfold deep in the maze of Sutton Park earlier this year.

I was also fortunate enough to be right there when Wilde crossed the line and told his team it was “bulls**t”. He’s not one to mince words, but from my numerous dealings with him, he’s not one to fabricate something, either.

Alex Yee is a deserved gold medallist, but Hayden Wilde has been cruelly denied a fair race. They both have.