20 Dec 2016

NZ triathlete suspended for two years

8:06 pm on 20 December 2016

Triathlon New Zealand (TriNZ) has suspended New Zealand age-group athlete Amy Stretton for two years following what it found was an incorrect time at the 2016 Oklahoma ITU Long Distance World Championships in September.

Stock image of triathlon swimming.

A file image of triathlon swimming Photo: Copyright: elvinphoto / 123RF Stock Photo

Stretton was first across the finish line in her age group (30-34) and also beat the leading males in the race by over a minute and the best overall females by eight minutes.

She was initially disqualified by race officials at the time but her disqualification was overturned on appeal.

ITU raised concerns with TriNZ in late September, requesting verification of Ms Stretton's ability to swim the recorded time.

TriNZ conducted an investigation and concluded that it could not justify the recorded time, but it was not in a position to overturn the result.

However, in early November, it resolved to form a disciplinary commission to investigate the matter.

A hearing was held to determine the outcome of the investigation, which Stretton did not attend.

Prior to the hearing, ITU subsequently reinstated her disqualification, basing that decision on a failure by Ms Stretton to appeal the initial disqualification within the mandated timeframe.

However, as there had been no full consideration of events, the commission decided to assess whether the swim time recorded by Ms Stretton was genuine and, if not, whether her actions amounted to a breach of TriNZ rules.

It found Stretton's swim time was not genuine, and she either acted deliberately to obtain such a time or later refused to acknowledge the inaccuracy of the time.

While it was accepted Stretton might be a strong swimmer, and while she might have been capable of swimming the distance at Oklahoma in that time, it was clear from the evidence that it was not possible for her to do so on that day, the commission said.

It also considered Stretton likely acted deliberately, given she gave no explanation to the contrary.

The commission found Ms Stretton's actions to be in breach of TriNZ's Code of Conduct, Section 2.1(a) of the TriNZ Rules, Clause 8.4 of the TriNZ Constitution and Clause 1 of Ms Stretton's athlete agreement, saying her actions amounted to a failure to be honest, take responsibility for her actions, practise good sportsmanship and abide by the rules of the sport.

Her actions had brought TriNZ into disrepute both with the Oceania Triathlon Union and ITU, and with the triathlon community more generally, it said.

Ms Stretton would not be permitted to be a member of TriNZ, any triathlon club affiliated to TriNZ or to any other ITU-affiliated club for two years.

She would also not be entitled to participate in any TriNZ-sanctioned activities or activities sanctioned by any TriNZ or ITU members.

This would include representing New Zealand at either an age group or elite level.