Cycling NZ and High Performance Sport NZ chart next steps following damning findings of an independent inquiry
The inquiry, commissioned in the wake of the death of elite cyclist Olivia Podmore, produced 90 recommendations for the sport and wider high performance system
HPSNZ responded on Thursday with a 10-point action plan, including steps to redress the power imbalance identified in the report with improved athlete voice mechanisms and an overhaul of athlete contracts
Cycling NZ have established a new Integrity Steering Committee, chaired by the Hon. Kit Toogood QC, which will develop its own action plan
Former New Zealand Olympic Committee boss turned Cycling NZ transformational change director Kereyn Smith says it’s time for cycling to rebuild trust and confidence with the public and community.
It comes after High Performance Sport NZ announced a 10 point action plan and Cycling NZ announced the establishment of a Cycling Integrity Steering Committee.
Smith was appointed in May to oversee change in cycling. Her appointment followed the release of a 104-page, 90 recommendation review into the sport, established following the suspected suicide of Rio Olympian Olivia Podmore.
The review uncovered a culture of “medals before process”, a lack of transparency and accountability regarding selection and recruitment, and an environment where gender biases are prevalent and women’s health was not a priority.
Smith and Cycling NZ, in consultation with HPSNZ and Sport New Zealand has installed Kit Toogood QC as chair of the integrity steering committee.
She said Toogood would bring “a wealth of experience, integrity and mana.” He is also a member of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, a foundation Deputy Chair of the New Zealand Sports Tribunal.
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Two athlete representatives, along with representatives from Cycling NZ and Sport NZ will be appointed by September via an “open and inclusive” process.
No deadline has been set for the completion of the implementation of the review’s recommendations.
The committee will be funded in part by HPSNZ, Smith said.
“There’s a real commitment to accept the inquiry is demanding change and accepting it’s necessary to get back the trust and confidence of the athletes, emerging athletes, stakeholders and New Zealand community. Change is necessary. A lot of change has already occurred,” she said.
“People want to see cycling as a sport they can be proud of.”
The review into the sport also questioned the use of athlete contracts and asked for cycling to consider athletes as employees. During their time in the High Performance programme, athletes reported not being able to afford rent and other bills, and skipping meals because of a lack of financial support.
She said this will be part of the CNZ “action plan” and will be addressed “in the coming months”.
“It would be really important to work through the recommendations that all of these things are considered in terms of what is fair, reasonable and affordable,” she said.
“They need to be treated with respect in a high integrity environment with solid ethics and concern for their well-being, whatever level they are. Whether they are an emerging athlete or a seasoned professional.
“Those things are at the heart of the culture of the sport and much of this … is about ensuring the high performance culture is solid and appropriate.”
Cycling NZ is asking “impacted stakeholders” for input on the terms of reference for the committee.