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October 2018,

Statement from Michael Scott

Statement from Chief Executive, Michael Scott

Firstly, I would like to thank Michael Heron for the thoroughness of his report and Cycling NZ for their involvement in and contribution to this important process.

When the report was commissioned in June I committed to accepting all its recommendations. That commitment remains and will be acted upon.

The behaviour that the report confirms took place within the Cycling NZ HP programme has absolutely no place in high performance sport. That behaviour has impacted on athletes and others, and that is simply not good enough. Performance matters, but so do people.

There is no question HPSNZ could and should have done more with the information we had. This is not something I want to see repeated. To those athletes whose privacy was breached, and to any others impacted by the conduct of HPSNZ, I am sorry.

There’s also no question that we need to create a better balance between winning on the world stage and the welfare of athletes, coaches and others working within the HP system. Performance matters, but so do people. This is something HPSNZ is fully committed to achieving in partnership with sports. Athlete welfare must become New Zealand’s competitive advantage.

However, there is no quick fix. Nor do I believe it is for HPSNZ to decide a quick fix. What’s appropriate and right, is collaboration with NSO’s, their athletes and coaches and others such the NZOC, Paralympics NZ and the NZ Athletes Federation, so that we can work together to find solutions that are fit-for-purpose and best suited to New Zealand’s HP system and the people who work within it.

The Board of HPSNZ has carefully considered Mr Heron’s report and the action we believe is necessary in response to it. As I said earlier, we will action all of its recommendations.

Most of Mr Heron’s recommendations will be addressed through the 13 point plan we have recently initiated. This is designed to ensure our system, including HPSNZ, continues to evolve so that it meets the needs of athletes, coaches and other key stakeholders.

The workstreams contained in our 13 point plan that address the recommendations of Mr Heron’s report are:

  • Athlete welfare, including an athlete voice mechanism
  • Our HP strategy and investment model
  • A re-examination of our pinnacle event debrief process

 

Each of these workstreams, and all others within the plan, will have project teams and terms of reference in place before the end of 2018. These project teams will include representatives from the NZOC, Paralympics NZ, both Olympic and non-Olympic sports (including athletes and coaches) and the NZ Athletes Federation, together with staff from HPSNZ.

This approach will take time. It will also give us the type of response we need. Fit-for-purpose and right for New Zealand.

We also need to move at a speed that makes sense for sports. Take funding. Most of our HP investment is already set through to Tokyo. There would be serious implications for sports and athletes if we were to effect change before then. What we can – and will – do, is review our funding model as part of our 13 point plan through the collaborative working group mentioned previously.

Any new way forward will be announced ahead of Tokyo and take effect at the start of the Paris Olympic and Paralympic cycle.

Outside of the 13 point plan, HPSNZ and Sport NZ will work together on:

  • A reassessment of the business capability support we provide to NSOs
  • An evaluation and, where required, an update of policies and procedures in relation to athlete safeguarding, privacy, issue and risk escalation, and coach-athlete relationships
  • These will be policies that can also be implemented by sports.

 

Though, not included in Mr Heron’s recommendations, I believe there is important work we need to do in terms of strengthening the culture of HPSNZ and how we partner with sports. These areas will be addressed through a restructure and cultural transformation process that is currently underway. Getting this right is one of my top priorities.

Between these responses, and through the collective efforts of all those working in, HP sport here in New Zealand, I believe we can create a stronger, more sustainable HP system. We expect athletes to get better each year. Athletes can expect the same of HPSNZ and New Zealand’s HP system in the future.

The HP system needs to keep evolving. HPSNZ as the system leader also needs to keep evolving.