Two-time Olympic gold medalist Alan Thompson banned from Canoe Racing NZ after investigation

Alan Thompson, pictured here in 2009, is a two-time Olympic champion and longtime coach and volunteer in the sport.

Kelly Hodel / Waikato Times

Alan Thompson, pictured here in 2009, is a two-time Olympic champion and longtime coach and volunteer in the sport.

Grand Olympic canoe champion Alan Thompson has been banned from the sport following a lengthy investigation into historic allegations of sexual harassment.

On Wednesday evening, delegates from Canoe Racing NZ’s 16 member clubs voted by secret ballot in favor of a special resolution brought forward by the national body to expel Thompson. The extraordinary move follows an investigation by a senior quality official after allegations against Thompson, a former life member of the sport, surfaced in October last year.

It was alleged that Thompson made “inappropriate sexualized remarks” towards female paddlers. In a notice posted on its website last month announcing the special general meeting, Canoe Racing NZ claimed that one incident occurred in 2014, while the second dated back to 1998.

The national body subsequently added a new claim to its notification. The third complaint concerned a former athlete who claimed that Thompson had deliberately exposed himself to her during a tour of Europe in 1991. She informed Canoe Racing NZ that she had made a formal complaint at the time, but to her. knowledge, the complaint was not dealt with. or resolved.

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Thompson denied the allegations “in the strongest possible terms.”

The complaints against Thompson followed the publication of a Things is 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.

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.

In a statement, Thompson’s attorney David Fraundorfer confirmed the deportation and again denied the allegations.

Canoe Racing NZ General Manager Tom Ashley.


Canoe Racing NZ General Manager Tom Ashley.

“Mr. Thompson is saddened that his relationship with CRNZ has come to an end after his many years of service in the sport. Even so, he does not regret having spoken about the welfare issues facing sport, ”the statement said.

“He continues to reject the allegations made against him and stresses that he was prepared to participate in a process such as arbitration which would allow him to call supporting witnesses, test the merits of complaints and present his case. ”

According to the notice posted on the Canoe Racing NZ website, the independent investigation by Wellington QC Victoria Casey found that the alleged behavior had taken place and was “unworthy of a member of CRNZ and contrary to purpose. of CRNZ ”.


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

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.

The national body said it was seeking expulsion of Thompson due to a number of factors, including the nature of the remarks, the impact of the conduct on female athletes and the guarantee of a “safe environment. for all athletes who participate in canoe races and CRNZ activities ”.

The sport’s constitution states that members can only be expelled by special resolution of the members at a general meeting.

In a statement provided by Fraundorfer, Thompson expressed his disappointment with the process.

“In [Thompson’s] view, how CRNZ chose to deal with these issues – including failing to speak to critical witnesses, failing to obtain relevant documentary evidence, and relying on two complaints that allegedly took place in 1991 and 1998 even before that CRNZ exists (one of which was determined in a hearing by the New Zealand Canoeing Association at the time) – means that it considers the process followed to be both deeply flawed and fundamentally unfair ”, indicates the press release.

“However, seeing that CRNZ has decided to make his decision so close to Christmas, he will be taking the next few weeks to think about his next steps. In the meantime, he would like to thank the many supporters and all who have spoken out on his behalf.

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 the regional and international level.

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