September 2021,

Cycling New Zealand and High Performance Sport New Zealand Announce Details of Independent Inquiry

A four person panel has been appointed to lead the independent inquiry commissioned by Cycling New Zealand and High Performance Sport New Zealand (HPSNZ), following the death of Olivia Podmore.

The panel will be co-chaired by Michael Heron QC and Professor Sarah Leberman.  They will be joined by Dr Lesley Nicol and rowing Olympic Silver Medallist Genevieve Macky (nee Behrent).

Cycling New Zealand and HPSNZ believe the four person panel brings a wide and varied range of perspectives, expertise and knowledge to the inquiry.

Participants will be able to engage with the panel through a range of options, including individual interviews, focus groups, direct emails or a survey.

Dr Lesley Nicol and Gen Macky are both highly respected former athletes who have an intimate understanding of the sports environment.  Gen spent many years training and competing as part of the centralised rowing programme in Cambridge, while Lesley played 110 tests for the Silver Ferns and is now a specialist Sports and Exercise Physician who also specialises in female sports medicine.

Professor Sarah Leberman brings the expertise she’s gained from her research into women and leadership in sport and has herself been involved in sport for most of her life including as a participant, coach, and administrator.

Michael Heron QC was formerly New Zealand’s Solicitor General and has appeared as lead counsel in all New Zealand Courts.  He led the 2018 Heron Report into Cycling New Zealand, which gives him valuable insight into the organisation as whole.

Cycling New Zealand Board Chairman Phil Holden said, “Each member of the panel will bring a different perspective to this inquiry and we believe that the diversity of expertise and experience will help ensure the inquiry meets its objectives.

“We’ve listened carefully to what cycling athletes have been saying, and felt it was especially important that there were athletes on the panel who had experience in a high performance environment, and a strong representation of expert women.”

Cycling New Zealand Chief Executive, Jacques Landry, said, “We are pleased that Michael Heron has agreed to co-chair the panel.  After leading the 2018 review into Cycling New Zealand, he is the best person to test whether the recommendations from that review were implemented effectively, and what we could have done, and still can do, better.”

Cycling New Zealand and HPSNZ have learnt from past reviews how important it is to ensure those central to the process feel connected and engaged with, at an early stage.

During the development of the Terms of Reference (TOR), consultation was undertaken with three groups – athletes, coaches and support staff – to discuss the rationale behind the appointment of the panel, and to give them an understanding of the different ways they would be able to engage with the panel during the inquiry.  The areas of focus for the inquiry were also discussed.

HPSNZ Chief Executive Raelene Castle said, ”We are committed to ensuring that the people central to this inquiry are consulted and listened to.  We started that process, by actively engaging with those groups in the development of the TOR, and we are determined to ensure that the participants remain at the heart of this process.

“We anticipate that this Inquiry may also provide valuable insights that extend beyond the environment of Cycling New Zealand.  If so, HPSNZ will consider how these could benefit the wider high performance system.”

The key objectives of the Inquiry are:

  • To assess the adequacy of the implementation of the recommendations from the 2018 Report by Cycling New Zealand and HPSNZ (noting both areas of strength and opportunities for improvement);
  • To identify areas of further improvement that would ensure the wellbeing of athletes, coaches, support staff and others involved in Cycling New Zealand’s high performance programme are a top priority within the environment;
  • To assess the support offered to athletes at critical points within Cycling New Zealand’s high performance programme (by both Cycling New Zealand and HPSNZ), with a particular emphasis on induction, selection and exit transitions;
  • To assess the impact that HPSNZ investment and engagement has on Cycling New Zealand’s high performance programme;
  • To assess the impacts (positive and negative) of high performance programmes which require elite athletes to be in one location for most of the year, with a particular focus on Cambridge; and
  • To understand what steps can be taken to improve current and future practices, policies and governance of Cycling New Zealand’s high performance programme with a view to ensuring the safety, wellbeing and empowerment of all individuals within that environment.


The independent inquiry will not investigate or attempt to resolve individual complaints.  Any individual complaints will be referred to the Sports and Recreation Complaints and Mediation Service (SRCMS) – which is run independently of any sporting bodies, clubs and organisations.

A website for the independent inquiry has been set up at  This will include details of the panel, the Terms of Reference, information on how to connect, engage and provide feedback, and how to access counselling and support services.  It will also provide periodic updates on where the inquiry is at during the different stages.

A Coronial Inquiry to investigate the cause and circumstances of Olivia Podmore’s death is also underway.  Cycling New Zealand and HPSNZ are co-operating fully with that inquiry.  The independent inquiry commissioned by Cycling New Zealand and HPSNZ will not overlap with the Coronial process, which will take place over a longer period of time than the independent inquiry.

Further details on the expected timing for the release of the report following the independent inquiry will be provided in due course, on advice from the panel.




Terms of Reference

Bios for each panel member


Media contacts:

Cycling New Zealand

07 595 0323


High Performance Sport NZ

Michelle Pickles

Group Media Manager

021 833 244