Canoe Racing NZ seek to expel two-time Olympic gold medalist Alan Thompson after sexual harassment investigation

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Two-time Olympic champion Alan Thompson, pictured here in 2009, is at risk of being kicked out of Canoe Racing NZ.

Kelly Hodel / Waikato Times

Two-time Olympic champion Alan Thompson, pictured here in 2009, is at risk of being kicked out of Canoe Racing NZ.

Canoe Racing NZ has called a special general meeting to demand the expulsion of one of the sport’s life members, two-time Olympic gold medalist Alan Thompson, following an investigation by a top QC.

The national body hired Wellington QC Victoria Casey to investigate Thompson’s alleged conduct following complaints of “inappropriate sexualized remarks” in October last year. According to a statement posted on the Canoe Racing NZ website, one incident occurred in 1998, and the other in 2014. One of the two incidents occurred while touring Canoe Racing NZ.

Canoe Racing NZ said it would not provide further details on the allegations at this time “out of consideration for the privacy of the complainants.”

A statement provided by Thompson’s attorney, David Fraundorfer, said Thompson denied the allegations “in the strongest terms.” Thompson had fully cooperated with the process and was “distressed that CRNZ placed matters in the public domain before the complaints were fully resolved.”

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“Such cooperation includes the provision of relevant supporting documents, which is difficult given that the complaints are both verbal and historical in nature, one dating back 23 years and believed to have taken place before the establishment of the CRNZ.

“However, [Thompson] is convinced that the correct result will be achieved once all the relevant evidence has been taken into account, ”the statement said.

Casey’s investigation, which ended in October this year, found that the alleged behavior had occurred and was “unworthy of a member of the CRNZ and contrary to the objectives of the CRNZ.”

Based on Casey’s findings, the board of directors of Canoe Racing NZ decided to expel Thompson, a central figure during an exciting and pioneering era of the sport in the 1980s alongside Ian Ferguson and Paul MacDonald.

On its website, Canoe Racing NZ said it was taking extraordinary action due to a number of factors including the nature of the remarks, the impact of the ride on female athletes and the guarantee of a ” safe environment for all athletes participating in canoe races and CRNZ activities ”.

Canoe Racing NZ boss Tom Ashley.

Peter Meecham / Stuff

Canoe Racing NZ boss Tom Ashley.

The sport’s constitution states that members can only be expelled by special resolution of the members at a general meeting. Canoe Racing NZ said it will say more at the end of the process.

“The welfare and confidentiality of complainants is of the highest priority for CRNZ. So will our continued commitment to ensure a culture where inappropriate behavior can be dealt with in a secure and confidential manner and the proper process can be followed, ”the statement said.

The complaints against Thompson followed the publication of a Thing investigating allegations of bullying and intimidation within Canoe Racing NZ’s high performance program, which contributed to the departure of six athletes over an 18-month period. One of those athletes was Thompson’s daughter, Kim.

Thing inquired about the Thompson investigation last year, but Canoe Racing NZ declined to comment at the time, responding to direct questions with a broad statement about its complaint processes.

Thing

Serious allegations of intimidation, intimidation and emotional abuse have surfaced during elite level canoe races. (First published in October 2020)

In October last year, Thompson joined a group of past and present athletes and former staff to make legal threats against Canoe Racing NZ for its handling of allegations of bullying in the women’s program.

“As those in canoe racing know, Mr. Thompson has been a strong advocate for the well-being of athletes in sport and has held CRNZ accountable,” said Fraundorfer.

“Regarding the process, the complainants and everyone involved, Mr. Thompson will not be commenting further at this point except to say that he remains committed to ensuring a safe environment for paddlers and the success of all. athletes in sport based on equality and equity.

The Special General Assembly will take place on December 22 and the results will be made available to the public and media on December 23. It is understood that delegates from each of Canoe Racing NZ’s 16 member clubs will vote on Thompson’s future in the sport.

Thompson won gold in the K1 1000m and men’s K4 alongside Ferguson, MacDonald and Grant Bramwell at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. He remained involved in the sport as a coach and volunteer at regional and international level.


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