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AusCycling move ahead with investigation of Olympic Games Team Pursuit bar break

Alex Porter of Australia crashed at speed
Alex Porter (Australia) on the boards after crashing following equipment failure during the Team Pursuit at the Tokyo Olympic Games (Image credit: Getty Images)

AusCycling said it had appointed two independent experts to deliver the promised investigation into the ‘equipment incident’ that occurred during the men’s Team Pursuit at the Tokyo Olympic Games, with an outcome expected before the end of the year.

During qualifying for the Team Pursuit, Alex Porter came crashing down when his handlebars appeared to snap off. The team were offered the opportunity to restart and qualified fifth, losing the chance to compete for gold and silver. They did, however, fight their way back and win a bronze medal

The day after the team pursuit crash, AusCycling confirmed that the part involved was not manufactured by Argon 18, who supply bikes to the Australian Cycling Team. Bastion Cycles then said it was one of its handlebar units that was being used when Porter crashed and was working with the team to understand the cause behind the failure.

‘’At the time we committed to a thorough, independent, and transparent review of what happened, and we’re now well placed to deliver on that promise,’’ said AusCycling CEO Marne Fechner.

AusCycling said the investigation would be led by Toni Cumpstone, who would be reporting to Fechner. 

Cumpstone has worked in high performance across multiple sports, including at the Victorian and Australia Institutes of Sport. She was High Performance director at Hockey Australia – which has recently been through a review following allegations about the organisation’s culture and bullying – resigning from that position in April. John Baker, a mechanical and aeronautical engineer with a focus on fault-finding and investigations, has been appointed as the investigator.

‘’Toni and John are leaders in their respective fields and have the blessing of the AusCycling Board and leadership to find out exactly what happened and what to do to prevent it happening again,’’ said Fechner.

AusCycling said in the statement that the Terms of Reference for the investigation had been designed to produce specific recommendations to mitigate the risk of similar incidents in the future.

“The investigation will be multi-faceted, and both Cumpston and Baker will be provided with the access and resources required to ensure all contributing factors are unearthed and examined,” said AusCycling in the statement.

The organisation added that the timeline would be flexible but the findings and recommendations are expected to be made public before the end of the year.

It wasn't the first time Australia has had its medal chances damaged by an equipment issue at the Olympic Games, with Rohan Dennis forced to change bikes during the time trial because of a broken aero bar in 2016. That didn't help the Rio Olympics medal tally live up to expectations, with the result of a silver and bronze from the track leading to an overhaul of its program and a new Performance Director, Simon Jones, to try to deliver an improved result at Tokyo.

The bronze in the Team Pursuit team ended up being the only medal for Australia on the track at the Tokyo Olympic Games, with the nation also delivering a bronze in the men’s elite time trial with Rohan Dennis and a gold medal from Logan Martin in the BMX Freestyle during its first appearance as an Olympic event. 

Alongside the equipment investigation, AusCycling is now again looking for a new head of performance after Jones announced in July that he would leave following the Olympic Games.