Heron Report: Former cyclist Steph McKenzie warns tough times still ahead

The damning review into the culture at Cycling New Zealand has come as no surprise to those who experienced it first-hand.

Steph McKenzie was bullied out of the national track programme two years ago. She spoke out after being fat-shamed by sprint coach Anthony Peden, forcing her onto antidepressants.

The findings of the independent Heron Report, released today, are bittersweet.

"I didn't realise there were others going through it," she told Newswhub. "I wish we were there together and able to talk about it a bit more within the programme for those that were bullied."

The report by Michael Heron QC was damning and brutal, slamming Cycling New Zealand's culture and pointing the finger at those in charge.

"I consider there have been instances of bullying in the programme," he said. "There was a lack of accountability and effective leadership."

Central to that conclusion is Cycling New Zealand's poor response to the inappropriate relationship between Peden and a female athlete.

McKenzie hopes lessons have been learned.

Sources inside CNZ have told Newshub that not all is well, and that any problems of culture and bullying won't be fixed until the female athlete involved is removed from the high performance programme

But today, Cycling NZ chairman Tony Mitchell was distancing himself from any suggestions that needed to happen.

"There is no indication that the athlete needs to be removed from the programme," he said.

But McKenzie disagrees.

"There needs to be something done with that person," she told Newshub."I definitely think there needs to be some consequences."

In light of the report, Cycling New Zealand has vowed to put athlete welfare over performances, but McKenzie believes time could be against them.

"Changing the culture for Tokyo 2020, I think it's going to be cutting it fine," she said. "I think there might be some speed bumps along the way."

Cycling New Zealand's already had its fair share of those and today, it hoped to draw a line in the sand after a dark period in its history.


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