Exclusive: Kiwi cyclists accuse NZ coach Anthony Peden, who has stepped down, of inappropriate behaviour and bullying

This story was first published on Wednesday May 30

One of the country's top cycling coaches has left Cycling New Zealand.

More than 20 staff have left Cycling NZ since the Rio Olympics with many saying it’s due to the toxic environment in the team. Source: 1 NEWS

The organisation says Anthony Peden resigned but 1 NEWS has discovered he's also been accused by cyclists and those close to the team of inappropriate behaviour.

More than 20 staff have left the organisation since the 2016 Rio Olympics and many say the toxic environment within the team was the reason why.

Peden's results on the track speak for themselves - at last month's Commonwealth Games his sprinters brought home eight medals.

But now, two years out from the sport's pinnacle event, the Tokyo Olympics, he's walked.

Cycling NZ chief executive Andrew Matheson said it was Peden's choice.

"You naturally debrief post events and we discussed it and ultimately his decision was to leave."

1 NEWS understands there was growing unrest from athletes and staff about behaviour from Peden that couldn't be ignored, including allegations of bullying and an inappropriate relationship with an athlete.

Matheson declined to answer questions around the accusations.

"I can't really comment about that. These things sit within an employment relationship which I'm not entitled to talk about."

1 NEWS spoke extensively today to a number of people close to Cycling NZ and though most wouldn't appear on camera, all said action should have been taken over Peden's behaviour a long time ago.

Kathryn Phillips was one of those people. She spent eight years with Cycling NZ as a sports scientist.

"I think there was smoke before I left," she said.

"And I think that has been left unchecked and now we've got a fire.

"It's started to get to the point that it's performance at all costs which is allowing decisions to be made, behaviours to occur, things to go unchecked because programmes are being exceedingly successful."

Since the Rio Olympics, Cycling NZ has been given nearly $7 million of tax-payer funding.

Peden didn't respond to multiple requests for an interview today but in the statement announcing his departure, he said his all-encompassing approach is not aligned to that of Cycling NZ.