A lengthy report released into the culture and actions of Cycling New Zealand (CNZ) and High-Performance Sport New Zealand (HPSNZ), based at the Avantidrome, was released last Monday. The independent report by former Solicitor General Michael Heron was commissioned in June after the sudden departure of former men’s cycling sprint coach Anthony Peden in May, finding that Peden had an inappropriate personal relationship with a female athlete and was involved in numerous instances of bullying and participated in a drinking culture. Michael Heron QC interviewed more than 70 people during the preparation of his 83-page report, which found that allegations that had surfaced in the media into the culture in the Cycling New Zealand High-Performance Programme were “well-founded”.
“They reflect a culture in the Programme of a lack of consequences for poor behaviour, a lack of accountability and sub-optimal leadership,” Heron said in his report, which included interviews with current and former athletes, coaches, support staff and consultants of CNZ and HPSNZ.
Michael Scott, the CEO of HPSPZ, has condemned the behaviour and apologised to athletes affected. “There is no question that HPSNZ could and should have done more with the information we had. This is not something we want to see repeated. To any athletes impacted by the conduct of HPSNZ, we are sorry.”
A letter from Anthony Peden’s lawyer, Lisa Hansen, on behalf of her client said the report was “grossly inaccurate in many respects and based on unreliable and inaccurate evidence”.
The letter was scathing of the process of obtaining evidence, which it claims was “predominately second and third hand, and includes conjecture, perception, conjecture-on-conjecture, anecdote, hearsay, gossip and rumour”, describing the whole process as faulty.
“Mr Peden declines to critique the many errors in the report, both factual and inferences, because that may only lead to the airing of further untruths and inaccuracies,” the letter said.
While declining to make any response to the report that “might breach his obligations to CNZ”, the letter went on to say that he feels privileged to have been employed by CNZ and to have worked with a dedicated team, including staff at HPSNZ. “He wishes them well.”
In conclusion, it said that while there were numerous errors in the report, Anthony Peden “has reflected on his own behaviour and is committed to ensuring no criticism can legitimately be levelled at him in the future”.