There's a giant hole in that just-released cycling report, and probably only one person who can fill it.

Who was the female athlete involved in an alleged relationship with coach Anthony Peden? We, the taxpayers, have got a right to know.

It was all very modern and a little bit quaint, that titillating investigation into what had gone wrong within the New Zealand cycling programme.


There was bullying, and there was also sex.

On one hand, the investigation found that in his role as sprint coach Peden had transgressed by either initiating or not discouraging an alleged "inappropriate" intimate/sexual relationship with a female athlete.

On the other hand, the woman involved doesn't get named, which is very old fashioned, like she needs protecting, can't stand up for herself, was somehow taken advantage of, did nothing really wrong.

I'm sure this isn't a surprise to anyone, but sex in sport is hardly new. It's been going on for a while.

However, sex between an athlete and a coach is, with little doubt, uncommon. A contributing reason is that most coaches and players are of the same gender, and homosexuality is not the dominant form of sexual preference. So the odds of it happening are relatively small.

And there are certainly reasons why team coach-athlete relationships are wrong, principally the enormous chance they create charges of favouritism and lead to divisions.

But consenting adults will do all sorts of things. That's life, and the Olympics for example have always generated a lot of heat away from the heat of the battle.

People thrown into intense situations can do the craziest things — the movie world is full of trysts on film sets.


What I can't work out is why the athlete isn't named. The inference is that Peden had all the power as coach, so somehow the woman was a victim. She apparently has this right to privacy as a current cycling employee.

I'm just not buying any of that, particularly as team mates may have rightly felt the athlete had established a form of unhealthy power over them.

For starters, identifying the woman will prevent other athletes being wrongly implicated. Her identity will be an open secret in cycling circles anyway.

As much as you can argue that a coach wields power, you can also argue that an athlete might be attracted to it. Maybe they just fancied each other. We're talking two adults here, both of whom need to take equal responsibility.

The idea that you can pin down who initiated a relationship is often a nonsense.

For us to blindly accept that any such relationship contains a one-way "power imbalance" - as the report alludes to - is pretty naive. Sexual power can work in all sorts of directions not reliant on job descriptions.

I also feel a patronising attitude to women comes across in all of this; of strong men in suits looking after a weak damsel in distress.

Hey people - women are strong, clever, independent, know right from wrong, can fall to temptation, can be manipulative, make mistakes, like sex, initiate sex, can take responsibility.

In my view, entering a relationship with your coach is - potentially - disrespectful and even harmful to team mates.

In the absence of being indentified as Peden has been, I'd strongly encourage the woman to come forward, tell her side of the story, remove the clouds over other people, let us better judge if our money was mis-spent.

She will win a lot of respect by doing so. Asking the tax paying public to rely totally on a report isn't good enough, quite frankly.

What happened may not be right, but these things happen in life. We're not robots. But we want a fuller picture.

Peden - who now coaches China - should also speak up, at the first opportunity.