Rowing NZ high performance manager resigns amid climate of fear claims

Athlete power has claimed another high profile official in New Zealand elite sport, with Rowing New Zealand high performance manager resigning.

Day 1 of the FISA Rowing World Cup on Lake Malta Source: Getty

1 NEWS understands Alan Cotter resigned following the results of a recent independent review.

Cotter, 61, had been with New Zealand Rowing since 2008, stepping into the role following the Beijing Olympics.

1 NEWS understands that the review delved into the culture of New Zealand Rowing, with some athletes accusing the organisation of putting success above their wellbeing.

It's understood Cotter was reprimanded over the treatment of rower James Lassche, who yesterday was selected as the bowman for the New Zealand men's eight which will be travelling to the World Championships in Bulgaria.

Rowing NZ has denied the claims, however.

It is understood that more than 55 people, including athletes and support staff were involved in the interviews for the review, amid claims of a climate of fear.  

Cotter's resignation comes less than 24 hours after the New Zealand squad to travel to next month's World Championships was finalised.

Cotter is a former New Zealand coxswain, who steered the New Zealand eight to a bronze medal at the World Rowing Championships at Karapiro in 1978.

He also won a silver medal in the eight at the World Championships in the former Yugoslavia a year later.

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Cotter is the latest casualty among New Zealand sport's internal reviews, with Cycling New Zealand's Anthony Peden stepping down after more claims of bullying, as well as allegations of a relationship with an athlete, while Football Ferns coach and NZ Football CEO Andreas Heraf and Andy Martin both stood down after similar claims.

A source told 1 NEWS that Cotter's departure is a result of the sanitising going on in high performance sport in New Zealand at present.


In a statement, Rowing NZ said it held a review in April.

"The well-being of our athletes and the culture of our organisation is paramount to everything we do," the statement said.

"We are constantly evaluating how we are performing both on and off the water. It is important we are not looking backwards at the outcomes of campaigns but continue to look forward, so we can refresh and continually improve to maintain our place as world leading in the high performance environment. Alan Cotter agreed to resign for this to occur."

It said there had been no formal complaints or allegations against Cotter.

Cotter's final day will be on September 21 at the conclusion of the World Rowing Championships.

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