Official named, Adams fallout continues

GREG FORD AND SIMON PLUMB
Last updated 08:16 08/08/2012
MIKE SCOTT/Fairfax NZ

New Zealand shot putter Valerie Adams took silver at London but lost her Olympic title. It was a hard pill to swallow and made harder by an administrative oversight that caused her stress on competition day. She talks with Fairfax Media reporter Simon Plumb.

London 2012: NZOC answer to Val fiasco

Valerie Adams
REUTERS
SILVER IT IS: New Zealand’s Valerie Adams bites her silver medal in the women’s shot put victory ceremony.

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Four other Kiwi athletes beyond Valerie Adams risked disqualification from the London Games as the furore around the New Zealand Olympic Committee's handling of important athlete documents grew today.

NZOC officials have vowed to re-assess the handling of the crucial documents following a serious administrative error at London 2012 after five athletes - Adams, 1500m runner Lucy van Dalen, decathlete Brent Newdick, javelin thrower Stuart Farquhar and walker Quentin Rew - were left off final confirmation start lists.

Secretary general Kereyn Smith said the NZOC planned to evaluate and increase safeguards following the basic oversight, which amounted to a single confirmation box being left blank on four official registration forms.

The blunder was exposed by Adams only hours before she was due to begin the defence of her Olympic shot put title.

The error risked Olympic disqualification for all five athletes and the NZOC had to take emergency action, which in Adams' case came well beyond the registration deadline for her event. She eventually won silver.

After accepting the culpability of her organisation, Smith said a review would be conducted, though she was unable to deliver any specifics.

"Into the future we will review processes and documentation thoroughly," Smith said.

"That's obviously an obligation we have to all athletes across all sports, we'll definitely do that.

"We can envisage there are a number of recommendations that come forward in due course and the fullness of time."

ADAMS BLUNDER OFFICIAL NAMED

Raylene Bates has been named as the woman who bungled Adams' entry into the Olympics.

In one of the last acts of New Zealand Olympic chef de mission Dave Currie's tenure with the team, he outed the Dunedin athletics coach as the person at fault over Adams' entry form into yesterday's shot put.

Nearly three days after the story first broke, the NZOC fronted the media for the first time to explain how the gaffe happened.

Within minutes of admitting the buck stops with him in terms of the organisation of the team, Currie, in an unsolicited aside, named and blamed Bates for the error. She was not present at the press conference to give her side of the story.

Currie then went on to rehash much of what we already knew; that the NZOC submitted flawed paperwork that said Adams did not want to throw in the Games, and that the error came to the NZOC's attention only on the eve of the Adams' much anticipated event when the entry list was posted and Adams' name was missing.

The NZOC acknowledged for the first time it blindsided Adams and that they had held a meeting with her and her manager Nick Cowan this morning to try and repair the damage. In an interview prior to the meeting Adams told Fairfax NZ the fallout from the gaffe was more profound than previously thought.

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Not only did it take several hours for Currie to correct, the stress continued on the day of her competition when she fronted for her event and was denied access to parts of Olympic Stadium.

There was also no official bib ready for her in the minutes before she was to enter the throwing circle and not surprisingly all her competitors exploited the situation by asking her what the problem was.

She eventually finished with a silver medal and this morning's NZOC apology appears to have come as little consolation during a meeting with Currie and Smith who afterwards fronted media to explain their actions.

"It is inexplicable how it happened," said Currie.

"I have spent considerable time with Raylene and asked how did this happen? There is no reason for why she did it. This happened in the worst possible scenario in the worst possible position we could have dreamed of. I have never seen anyone as distraught and had a feeling of helplessness [as Bates]."

Smith added: "It was unfortunate......but we want to move on."

"Our focus is on the team in the next few days into the future we will review the process and documentation thoroughly. That is obviously an obligation to all athletes and sport."

But the damage, it seems, has been done. And now the question is, can it be repaired.

Adams' manager Nick Cowan said he had confidence that Smith and Currie would lead a thorough investigation into how the bungle was made and put in place protocols to make sure it does not happen again.

"Val and I made it clear in our meeting today [with Smith and Currie] that a through process needs to be conducted here and we were given assurances that will happen."

He said Adams still had a strong bond with the NZOC.

But it is clear not all is well on that front.

Adams said she wanted someone to be held "accountable" and interestingly harboured no ill will towards Bates. It is understood they have a good relationship and were spotted hugging each other yesterday after the shot put heats.

It appears Adams' beef resides with Currie and Smith. Currie is poised to retire after the Games. Smith has only recently started her tenure as secretary general. Interestingly, NZOC president Mike Stanley did not front the media conference but observed the press conference from the media seating area.

ISSUES ABOUND

The NZOC's admission is the latest in a series of controversies around New Zealand's 2012 Olympic campaign.

In April, 17-year-old shot put junior world champion Jacko Gill withdrew from Olympic selection after New Zealand's qualification standards were "miscommunicated" to athletes. The NZOC, who oversee selections, backed away from responsibility.

The NZOC has also found itself in the firing line over the Olympic shooter Ryan Taylor.

Smith admitted her organisation did not uncover the "genuine mistake" of Taylor's national body supplying them with lower international scores than Taylor had actually achieved.

After originally being left out of the Kiwi team for London, Taylor is seeking $8000 compensation for legal fees spent on overturning an NZOC decision based on wrong information.

* This story is now closed for comments.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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