Canoe Racing New Zealand (CRNZ) has held its Special General Meeting. The 16 member clubs voted to expel double Olympic champion, Alan Thompson following accusations of sexual harassment.

I have no knowledge of Thompson’s accusers or the truthfulness of their accusations. However, the timing of the complaints is hugely suspicious. The complaints were made slap-bang in the middle of a Thompson led campaign focused on CRNZ bullying of its female members. The impression of silencing a critic, the smell of corruption is difficult to avoid. Have CRNZ decided to put-down a critic who was in the process of disrupting their $2,500,000 a year Sport New Zealand funded lifestyle?

I do not know the answer to those questions. However, having witnessed up close and personal the behavior of administrators gone rogue in other sports; I am very suspicious. What can be done about it now?

Well, that is up to Alan. I wish him well. In the same impossible position, here is what I would do.

  1. I would look seriously at myself. Is there any truth at all in what the accusers have said?
  2. If the most honest answer is, no truth at all, then it is time for fresh air to expose CRNZ participation in a witch-hunt.
  3. I would transfer everything out of CRNZ’s dispute process. Alan Thompson will never get justice there. Not in one hundred years. Transfer it into one of the systems our society has to handle “legal” disputes. In similar circumstances I chose the Privacy Commissioner and the Human Rights Review Tribunal. I don’t think that is what Alan Thompson needs. It may be the Courts. I am sure Alan’s lawyer will know the appropriate judicial process, well away from manipulation by Sport New Zealand and CRNZ. But have nothing to do with any dispute process that is bought and paid for by Sport New Zealand. Alan says he wants witnesses, hearings, cross examinations and justice. Then he needs to go to the place our society and many years of legal history have designed for that purpose. That is what Folau did and won. That is what I did and got a fair hearing. Sadly, that is what Podmore should have done. Get out of Castle’s kangaroo court and into the mainstream.  
  4. Be prepared to come clean with everything. What are the accusations? Who are the accusers? If they are lying about Alan Thompson, expose the lies, the names and the deception. There are very good reasons for courts being open to the public. The eighteenth-century philosopher Jeremy Bentham described this best when he said

In the darkness of secrecy, sinister interest and evil in every shape have full swing. Only in proportion as publicity has place can any of the checks applicable to judicial injustice operate. Where there is no publicity there is no justice. Publicity is the very soul of justice. It is the keenest spur to exertion and the surest of all guards against improbity. It keeps the judge himself while trying under trial.

This case has reached that point.   

There are three reasons a case like this has to be fought and won.

  1. No one should get away with falsely destroying another person’s life.
  2. If two or three women have been coerced into lying either on their own or with CRNZ’s participation they are attacking every woman who has an honest complaint and may not be believed because these three used it to get even.  
  3. New Zealand sport can do without its systems being corrupted by bad actors.           

For those three reasons I would not give up. Not under any circumstances. New Zealand sport in general, women’s sport in particular and Alan Thompson’s hard-won career deserve no less. I wish him well. If Alan is being lied about. If there is corruption afoot, then the fight Alan is having now is more important to New Zealand sport than his two Olympic gold medals.  

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