New Zealand road cycling champion Jason Christie was apologetic after he drew international attention for appearing to make an obscene gesture across the finish line of the event.
Global Cycling Network's race news show questioned whether Christie's title should be taken off him after footage appeared to show the two-time national champion giving a middle-finger salute after winning the race ahead of Hayden McCormick and Michael Torckler.
While the incident had been brought to international attention, Cycling New Zealand Road and Track Council president Steve Hurring told the Herald from what they had seen it just appeared to be a cyclist celebrating his victory.
"We'll have a look at it again but the video we've seen shows he has more than one finger in the air."
Hurring said there was a protest committee in place at all events to examine such incidents up to 30 minutes after the completion of a race and believed if someone had a video that showed Christie meant to give a middle-finger salute, they would have come forward.
"It all depends what angle you take things on," Hurring said.
A pre-empted middle-finger salute would be an infrigement of the sport's governing body, Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), cycling regulation 12.1.005 No.2, which states "anyone subject to UCI regulations shall be suspended for a minimum of one and a maximum of six months who behaves in such a way as to blemish the image, the reputation or the interests of cycling or the UCI."
McCormick, who took out second place, was made to apologise in 2017 for flipping off English cyclist Dan Fleeman after the Britton beat him across the line to claim first place in the Rutland-Melton International. McCormick's team, One Pro Cycling, also returned his prize money to the race organisers to donate to a charity of their choice.
Christie, who claimed his second title in three years at the event in Napier on Sunday, addressed the allegations in a statement on his website, and said it had all happened in the heat of the moment being portrayed in a split-second shot.
"I had never intended on portraying the image towards my fellow competitors, when in fact I had thanked them for their incredible rides directly after the event at the podium ceremony.
"There have been people quick of the mark to insinuate I had meant something I hadn't even thought of at the time, let alone known that I had done.
"I've looked at the pictures over and over again and I can understand why people think this because in that one split second photo that was taken, it does portray an image that is completely different to the emotional feeling I was overcome by.
"I'm sorry that it has been portrayed this way, it was never my intention."