The Macca TRS Feud: A Complete History

Artwork by Always Curious.

Since my feud with Chris McCormack has now made it’s way onto the Slowtwitch forum, and I am unable to comment there due to the fact that I am banned (a blessing), I thought I’d provide a timeline and summary of major issues before the peanut gallery allows their individual stories to get in the way of the actual facts. In addition, I will address evidence that Chris is operating a mimic TRS Triathlon twitter account.

First of all, it is only fair to point out that in late 2013 and early 2014, when my twitter account was strictly an Andrew Starykowicz parody, I made multiple jokes about Macca. In fact, I wrote a lot of jokes about a lot of people.

These Macca tweets are so old that I can’t pull them up anymore, and I can’t recall any off of the top of my head. That said, topics included buying fake twitter followers and more than a few jokes about Thanyapura being a brothel rather than a legitimate hotel. Chris is their Executive Chairman. To the best of my recollection, Chris never responded either positively or negatively to any of the jokes. 

Background

October 2014

Emails were exchanged leading up to Kona to arrange for an interview. Chris never returned phone messages or texts and the interview never happened. 

December 2014 

Ben began raising concerns about working with and taking money from an authoritarian Bahraini regime that has been accused of human rights abuses. Challenge CEO Zibi Szlufcik appeared on TRS Radio on December 17 and Ben questioned Zibi on the issue of HR abuses. After the interview with Zibi, Ben facilitated a round-table discussion with two other guests interested in human rights.

February 2015

After binge-listening the Serial podcast and seeing how successful it was, Ben sent an email to Chris outlining plans and financial projections for a long-form audio documentary to be recorded in Thanyapura. Chris never responded to the email and Ben never followed up. 

April

Rumors about who would be on the Bahrain 13 team were plentiful, but there was no official announcement. Ben asked Jim Gourley to explore the topic. 

Ben talked with Jan Frodeno after his Oceanside win in April about his experience with Sheikh Nassar and the Bahrain 13 Endurance Team (55 min mark). 

May

Ben published Jim Gourley’s article titled: Triathlon’s New Kingdom. Jim explores Bahrain’s entrance into triathlon and how it may significantly influence the sport’s future. It was a fair and balanced profile of two key figures, Zibi and Saqer Al Khalifa, shaping the new partnership.

Critics called it a puff piece because it didn’t address allegations of human rights abuses. 

Ben emailed Jim Gourley after publishing the article:

“Great job on the Bahrain article. If you are interested, I’d love a follow-up that is focused on the ethics of accepting money from an alleged human rights abuser. Given that this is a favorable piece, it’s probably fair to follow-up with some of these same people with tougher questions.”

TRSradioMacca2

 

 

 

Chris McCormack’s camp approached Ben and asked if Chris could be on TRS Radio to promote the Bahrain 13. Ben was surprised and skeptical as to whether or not it would actually happen, but he agreed right away.

Macca appeared on TRS Radio on May 26 and they spent the beginning of the conversation talking about Bahrain 13 (9:30 in). Overall, the interview was a love fest. Chris was questioned about the ethical issues, but it wasn’t a brutal interrogation.

There was no obvious tension, In fact, there were a lot of laughs and some great stories told. Later, several individuals alleged via email that parts of some of these stories were untrue. 

Note: Macca told this story about Sebastian Kienle:

July

On July 1, Zibi  appeared on TRS Radio for a 2nd time. Again, Ben asked about human rights issues related to Bahrain.

On July 29, Sebastian Kienle appeared on TRS Radio. Ben brought up the issue of human rights abuses and they had a thoughtful discussion.

Note: Kienle denied that the conversation Macca described in the previous podcast took place. 

Prior to the Kienle interview, Jim sent me his op-ed, Bahrain Endurance 13: An Unfortunate Number. I sat on it for a while. I knew it would create a shit-storm and I was just about to interview Kienle. I showed Saqer Al Khalifa the draft and invited him to write a response that I would agree to publish. In the end, he declined. He did make a few notes and I made a couple of small changes to the essay. 

August 3

The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), a non-profit organisation focused on advocacy, education and awareness for the calls of democracy and human rights in Bahrain published an open letter to the Bahrain Endurance 13.

August 6

I published Jim’s article. Saqer Al Khalifa and Jan Frodeno engaged in the forum discussion. The article was so popular, when you google “Bahrain 13” it ranks just below the team’s facebook page in the 5th position.

Why not include a link to the open letter? Jim finished the article before the open letter was published. Plus, I simply don’t recall seeing it at that time. I missed it. 

August 8

I received a letter from Hind Habib of Schillings on behalf of Sheikh Nassar stating that the allegations in the Gourley article were false and defamatory. He demanded, among other things, that I amend the article and provide 72 hours notice should I ever write about His Highness ever again.

August 14

Macca releases his first podcast in 4 months. In the episode, he calls Mark and me “scabs” and “scumbags” for soliciting listener support. He did not address any issues related to the Bahrain 13.

Much to my embarrasment, I responded with the following tweet. I regret the fact that I allowed his comments to get me angry. Had I possessed more class and maturity, I would have ignored his remarks.

From this point, it spiraled out of control. Chris accused me of begging him to promote my show. I called bullshit. He then tweeted a screenshot of an email where I pitched the audio documentary idea described earlier. My phone number was included. 

This is an interesting tweet. What does “resolve like an Aussie” mean? Is it a veiled threat of violence? Are we going to go surfing together? Also, it would appear that he felt that it was undignified of me to respond to his podcast comments via twitter instead of face-to-face. I’m still not sure what comments of mine he perceived to be a cheap shot. Was it a cheap shot to call me a scumbag for soliciting listener support for my show? Were his comments face-to-face?

August 15

Chris alleged “abuse” by Ben. 

Jim Gourley challenged Chris to a debate. Read the entire back and forth here. It is among the most bizarre exchanges I’ve ever witnessed. In summary, Chris offered his phone number and told Jim to call. Jim wanted the conversation to be on the record (skype calls can be recorded). 

August 19

Ben addressed the twitter spat on TRS Radio episode 52 with Simon Whitfield. Macca discussion starts about 11 minute in.

September 2

Chris names Ben “Wanker of the Week” on his podcast. Again, called us “scabs”, “blow-ins” and “fucking scabs”. 

Chris argued with a critic on twitter about whether or not we are helping to grow the sport. See link.

 

Is Chris operating a mimic TRS account?

A recent development in this Macca TRS feud is that a NEW twitter account popped up using the handle @thereelstarky. It copied the TRS twitter account exactly, creating mass confusion. I contacted twitter because the account was using my image, logos, exact bio, name, etc. Dozens of people contacted me wondering why I had unfollowed and followed them back. It remains a source of confusion.

For a moment, the images were removed by twitter, but they are now back.

I had a hunch that it was someone close to Chris. Others suspected the same. 

Is this another veiled threat?

Evidence

Could this actually be the Chris McCormack himself behind The “Reel” Starky parody of a former parody account. 

  1. Both accounts have used the phrase “your an joke”. Chris misuses “your” very consistently.
  2. Geographic location on mobile tweets are exactly the same as his personal account.

He denied the allegations.

To be continued…

About the Author

Ben Hobbs
Ben Hobbs is Publisher of TRS Triathlon and host of TRS Radio. Follow @TRS_Tri