The investigation into the death of Olivia Podmore will publish its Report on Monday next week, the 16 May 2022.

The Report’s authors, Sarah Leberman and Michael Heron distributed the following email today.

Kia ora koutou,

Thank you for your participation in the Cycling New Zealand High Performance New Zealand Independent Inquiry.  It has been a privilege to be part of this kaupapa and we are grateful for your contribution.  In the end, more than 200 people engaged directly with us.   

We write to provide an update to those we have an email for (please forward to anyone you think may need to know).  We have delivered a final report to CNZ and HPSNZ.  That report will be made available to the public on the afternoon of Monday 16 May.  CNZ and HPSNZ will handle the distribution and general communications about the report, and any questions about what happens next can be directed to them. 

Thank you again for your engagement, and we wish you all the best.

Noho ora mai rā,  

Mike and Sarah  

On Monday then we will know the conclusions that have been reached. But before then we can speculate.

Has the death of Olivia Podmore acted as a catalyst for change? Are those responsible for her death identified and will they be held to account? Have the structural shortcomings of High Performance Sport New Zealand’s (HPSNZ) empire been exposed? Will changes be made to the people, the structure and the honesty of high-performance sport in New Zealand? Will Raelene Castle accept responsibility for Podmore’s death and be asked to resign? Will centralised training be abandoned?

In my opinion, the answer to all those questions is NO. This Report, like a hundred reports that have gone before will change nothing. This Report will be a whitewash designed to dig Castle and HPSNZ out of a hole. Over 200 people contributed to the investigation. Many of them are hoping for a New Zealand sporting earthquake on Monday. They are going to get a gentle breeze barely enough to move the curtains in Castle’s Harbour City Centre office.

Alan Thompson’s dismissal will have been for nothing. The near destruction of Swimming New Zealand will have been for nothing. My health will have suffered irreparable damage for nothing. Olivia Podmore will have died for nothing. Cover ups are a HPSNZ speciality. This Report will be no different.

I see the Report has already been delivered to Cycling New Zealand (CNZ) and HPSNZ. You can bet your life carefully crafted answers are being prepared for Monday’s release. Nothing that Abby Wilson, Zoe George, David Long or Dana Johannsen can ask will not have been given a good public relation going over.

If ever there was a time for some “in depth” Fleet Street journalism, it is now. Olivia Podmore deserves no less. Last week Zoe George interviewed CNZ interim chief executive Monica Robbers. We got a taste there of how Ms Robbers intends to fob off any criticism. Here are examples of her corporate speak. My guess is we will hear a lot more of this from Ms. Robbers and Ms. Castle on Monday.       

The letter was delivered after “significant consultation”

“This practice of emailing a letter is no longer the practice”.

CNZ is not aware of the practice, and “it is one that would never be condoned”.

She said high performance staff “were only ever fully supportive and there is correspondence on file that represents this viewpoint”.

Robbers says (athletes were) given “significant support” by CNZ and also paid for private support.

“Mary (name changed) deserves a lot of credit for being open and willing to talk about things openly. She has been very courageous.”

Robbers says “there is no substance” to the claims of staff breaching confidentiality.

Just a pile of corporate speak garbage. “Significant consultation, no longer the practice, would never be condoned, fully supportive, correspondence on file, significant support, paid for private support and no substance to breaching confidentiality”. It’s all there ready to be rolled out again on Monday. Ms. Robbers has clearly learned nothing from the death of one of her athletes. No humility, no shame, no regret and no apology. If all her assurances had a grain of truth, now come Olivia Podmore is dead.

CNZ and HPSNZ should not get away with this travesty – but they will. At least that’s my prediction.

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