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LONDON (AFP) — Ian Drake is stepping down as chief executive of British Cycling after seven years at the helm next April, he announced Friday.
Drake’s decision comes in the wake of a tumultuous year which saw success on the track — the British team dominated at the Olympics — but also allegations of bullying and a recent controversy over Bradley Wiggins’s use of therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) permitted by cycling authorities for the powerful corticosteroid triamcinolone prior to three major races.
Drake didn’t mention either affair and said he believed the time was right to hand over to a fresh face.
“I believe that the end of this Olympic cycle is the natural moment for a new CEO to take the organization forward into Tokyo 2020,” Drake said.
“I have been involved with British Cycling in some form for almost 20 years, the last eight as CEO, and it is an organization that I will always love.
“I have been privileged to be a part of the amazing success we have experienced over those two decades and I know that it will go on to even greater heights.
“Now is the right moment for both myself and British Cycling to move on.”
The announcement of Drake’s departure comes ahead of an independent review into allegations of bullying and discrimination at British Cycling sparked by the conduct of former technical director Shane Sutton.
The Australian sensationally quit his post 100 days before the Rio de Janeiro Olympics after the allegations about his behavior were made. Among the claims were that he told sprinter Jess Varnish to “go and have a baby” after she was dropped from the team, and called Paralympic cyclists “gimps.”
A key figure behind the scenes in the success of British cyclists at both the Beijing and London Olympics, Sutton emphatically denied the allegations against him and promised to cooperate with the review.
The Wiggins fiasco was sparked by his medical records being hacked by a Russian group called Fancy Bears in September and leaked to the press. They revealed he was permitted to take the otherwise banned drug just days before the 2012 Tour de France, which he won, as well as the 2011 Tour and the 2013 Giro d’Italia.
Wiggins said he needed the drug to help control his asthma.
He came under fresh scrutiny following a report in September in Britain’s Daily Mail that UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) wanted to question him and his Team Sky bosses over a medical package delivered to the British outfit ahead of the 2011 Tour de France.
Both Wiggins and Sky boss Dave Brailsford, the British Cycling performance director until April 2014, have insisted they have done nothing wrong. The TUEs were also approved by the UCI, cycling’s world governing body.
UKAD officials also visited British Cycling headquarters earlier in October, saying the meeting was arranged with the governing body’s “full cooperation.”