My Turn To Take A Knee

Craig Lord has done it again. This time with the help of Washington Post journalist Sally Jenkins. Together Lord and Jenkins have shone a light on the deception and double dealing that is a blight on the administration of world swimming. Here is a link to their article.

Their report exposes serial problems that must be addressed. What they say is relevant to the administration of the sport internationally and within New Zealand. Because Lord and Jenkins address the malaise that affects FINA and other “big fish”, such as the USA and China, does not mean “small fish”, like New Zealand, are not affected by the same disastrous algae bloom.

I don’t want to quote their entire report but here is a paragraph that deserves special attention.

“Kneel until the USOPC is completely obliterated and rebuilt. Kneel in protest of the fact that our greatest athletes are still being used, even today, as mere servicers of power brokers seeking to cash in on their skin. Kneel until the entire audience understands there is a word for the current USOPC reward structure — pimping. Kneel until every USOPC official is shamed into understanding that raking in disproportionate sums skimmed off young people’s bodies, while failing to enact reform that would protect those bodies from crimes, does not make you a mere bystander. It makes you just another abuser.”

What a brilliant description of Swimming New Zealand (SNZ). Not everybody of course. But “just another abuser” is perfect for the organisation as a whole. Craig Lord mentions the fiasco that surrounded the Lauren Boyle 1500m world record. He makes the point that no one ever claimed that Lauren should not be awarded the record. Our problem was SNZ’s inability to tell the truth on the application form. That was abuse – abuse of Lauren’s efforts and abuse of every swimmer in New Zealand who respects words like integrity, justice and the rule of law.

But, closer to home is the case about to be heard by the Human Rights Review Tribunal (HRRT). This will consider whether SNZ has violated my privacy by refusing to provide me with a copy of the Marris Report into complaints about my coaching. The case will also consider my claim for $260,000 compensation for specific harm caused by SNZ.

That’s the good news for SNZ. If I was SNZ the bad news I would worry about is ending up being housed by the Prime Minister in a government facility a few kilometers south of Lake Taupo.


  1. If the finding of the Privacy Commissioner are confirmed by the HRRT, and
  2. SNZ is guilty of breaching Principle 6 of the Privacy Act 1993, and
  3. If the Report finds the accusations made against me were false, then
  4. In withholding the Report, SNZ are guilty of a cover-up in breach of S116 of the Crimes Act.

Here is how the Crimes Act describes what, in my view, SNZ has done.

116 Conspiring to defeat justice

Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years who conspires to obstruct, prevent, pervert, or defeat the course of justice in New Zealand

Spending three years denying me access to the Marris Report, in my opinion was a classic effort at obstructing, preventing, perverting and defeating the course of justice. Certainly the Privacy Commissioner thought so and I would be surprised if the HRRT found any other way.

Seven years for those who run SNZ seems appropriate. It is little more than twice the length of time I’ve had to tolerate the fallout from accusations that should have been sorted out long ago – were it not for the SNZ conspiracy.

But while we wait for all that to be resolved by the Tribunal and the Court, Craig Lord encourages us to “take a knee”. That expression refers to American football quarterback, Colin Kaepernick’s, decision to kneel during the national anthem. In Kaepernick’s case he was protesting the racial abuse of Trump’s America.

I have decided to accept the advice of Craig Lord. I can’t take a knee during the National Anthem. In NZ we seldom play the National Anthem before a swim meet. Besides, it is not the policies of my country that I object to. Jacinda seems to be doing just fine. This is specific to SNZ. What token gesture would signal my disapproval of that lot? A couple of weeks ago the penny dropped. I would refuse to renew my coaching membership. What use was it anyway?

I was refused permission to watch Eyad swim in the National Championships. I was denied access to my private information. SNZ used my money to pay for bloated executives to fly around the world while swimmers were forced to pay for themselves. Why on earth would I want to continue my membership?

But in the spirit of all that’s good and decent I won’t blame SNZ. Instead let me take the opportunity to make Johns and Cotterill feel more comfortable – thank you Groucho Marx.


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