Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Another Naughty Athlete

More bad news for Cycling NZ today with a conviction handed down, and name suppression order lifted, on high profile cyclist Hayden Roulston.

Roulston, who signed a lucrative contract in September to ride for Lance Armstrong's Discovery Channel team, was convicted by Christchurch District Court Judge Bisphan on two counts of common assault. The incident occurred late at night in a inner city bar in Christchurch earlier this year. This was well before Roulston represented NZ at the Athens Olympics. A substantive hearing was held last Friday where evidence and for and against Roulston was submitted. A large part of his defence was that he was only peripherally involved in the assault and had been mistakenly identified as the main offender. In his ruling today Judge Bisphan found that on the balance of evidence presented he was confident Roulston was guilty of the charges brought against him.

Roulston was fined $400 dollars on both counts along with $260 court costs and a $150 witness fee. Sentencing was delayed for several hours as Judge Bisphan sought clarification on what impact a conviction would have on Roulston's international career. Police went to the US Embassy in Wellington which advised since the conviction was at the lowest order of the assault scale it would not compromise his visa chances. Though the truth of this will only be confirmed when Roulston makes his visa application. If he encounters troubles there may be scope for him to appeal his sentence as Judge Bisphan did indicate he did not want Roulston's punishment to be disproportionate to his offence.

So far there's no word from Cycling NZ on what disciplinary action, if any, it might take against Roulston. A statement may be issued tomorrow.

No comments: