Mahe Drysdale urges calm in wake of Alan Cotter resignation

Mahe Drysdale's described the reports behind Rowing NZ's high performance manager Alan Cotter's resignation as sensationalised and unfair.

Cotter was reported to have left after allegations of "bullying" in an April review, which was looking into the culture of the organisation.

The two-time Olympic champion admitted to Newshub he hadn't always agreed with Cotter's decisions but felt he acted in the best interests for the sport.

"It's been a meteoric rise for the sport, and [Cotter's] been at the helm the whole way through rowing's most successful period," Drysdale said.

Cotter's been leading the medal charge for 10 years, and in that time Drysdale noted the number of athletes attending pinnacle events has risen dramatically.

Now he's urging calm in the wake of Cotter's departure, admitting a fresh face will be a positive step for the sport's future, but he doesn't think there needs to be drastic changes.

"I think you can look after your athletes and win.

"But we certainly don't want to sacrifice medals for happy athletes."

Drysdale's referencing the realities of the high performance environment.

"Your career is scrutinised every six months." 

Drysdale said it's a case of "you're either in or you're out", saying there's no support for athletes who miss out on selection between trials.

"It's a very, very hard environment to be a part of but that's high performance sport and why we're doing so well.

"Some people just can't hack it".

Despite top results, this environment has come under scrutiny, and has been described as "a culture of fear".

Former rowers told Newshub they had had personal grievances with Cotter, and in some instances their selection was used as a form of intimidation and blackmail.

One former rower also referenced a meeting with Cotter, and said he was left feeling degraded and seeking an apology.

"There's certainly things which need to be improved, but since Rio some of those things have been improved," Drysdale said.

"We'd like more ownership, athlete ownership… where we can be a part of making key decisions about our future."

Cotter will stay on with the organisation until after September's World Championships.

That's the same time athletes are expected to see a summary of the review for the first time, following months of intensive training and racing.

Newshub.

Contact Newshub with your story tips:
news@newshub.co.nz