Investigation after death of cyclist Olivia Podmore

Olivia Podmore. Photo: Getty
Olivia Podmore. Photo: Getty
Cycling New Zealand have commissioned an investigation into the culture at the organisation following the death of Olivia Podmore.

The former Olympic track cyclist died suddenly last week, leaving the cycling community shocked and leading to questions about Cycling NZ's culture.

As revealed by The New Zealand Herald, Podmore was allegedly pressured to lie by Cycling NZ as part of a 2018 investigation into impropriety at the sporting body.

Those close to the Rio 2016 Olympic athlete also say she was troubled by her lack of selection at the Tokyo Olympics - which some Cycling NZ teammates viewed as unfair.

In a statement today, Cycling NZ and High Performance Sport New Zealand (HPSNZ) said a joint independent inquiry would include the adequacy of the changes made in the wake of the 2018 investigation, called the Heron Review, into the high performance programme of Cycling NZ.

The Heron review was triggered by cycling sprint coach Anthony Peden's resignation following allegations of bullying, drinking and an inappropriate relationship between Peden and an athlete.

The investigation concluded there was a lack of accountability and leadership throughout the Cycling NZ operation and a reluctance to raise issues, including "instances of bullying".

"We have been listening carefully to the voices of athletes who have spoken out or made contact with us directly. The Board of Cycling New Zealand are very clear they want to make sure that those perspectives are built into this inquiry right from the start," Cycling NZ chairperson Phil Holden said in the statement.

"Given how closely we work with HPSNZ, it is important that all of our individual and joint systems are reviewed concurrently."

Chief Executive of HPSNZ Raelene Castle said Podmore's death had raised serious questions about athlete wellbeing in the wake of the Tokyo Olympics that  must be acted upon.

"Olivia's death has focused our attention once more on the complex issues surrounding athlete welfare and wellbeing, issues that the system has grappled with across a number of years. Our priority is to ensure we understand what has happened and what more can be done.

"Understanding something so complex will take time. We also must respect and engage in the coronial enquiry that is underway.

"A joint inquiry is the right thing to do to ensure we take a system view of the issue and are sensitive to all parties affected by this tragedy."

The inquiry scope and framework will be defined in conjunction with a yet to be appointed independent inquirer.

Podmore, from Canterbury, represented New Zealand at the 2016 Rio Olympics in the women's team sprint event and rode at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships that year.

Where to get help:

• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youthline: 0800 376 633 or text 234 (available 24/7)
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (12pm to 11pm)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 or text 4202 (available 24/7)
• Anxiety helpline: 0800 269 4389 (0800 ANXIETY) (available 24/7)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

 

 

ev-and-hybrid-banner-updated_0.jpg

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter