Saturday 21 October 2017

Cycling: Yates insists he is leaving Team Sky with 'head held high'

Sean Yates has denied reports his departure from Team Sky and subsequent retirement from professional cycling was forced by an admission of any kind.

Lead sports director Yates was a key figure as Bradley Wiggins triumphed in this year's Tour de France, but Team Sky have confirmed Yates' departure.

Yet, both the British team and the 52-year-old denied a report in the 'Sunday Telegraph' that suggested Yates had left his role after an interview with general manager Dave Brailsford, who has stressed there must be a zero-tolerance policy over doping within the team.

Yates acknowledges there will be rumours surrounding his departure but insists he is exiting the sport for personal reasons.

"I have suffered with my health in recent years and have spent a lot of time away from my home, so I feel the time is right to focus on myself and my family.

"I realise the timing of my retirement will lead to speculation given what is currently going on in the sport, but I can walk away with my head held high knowing I have done nothing wrong."

Yates' decision comes just three days after Team Sky lost another key staff member when Bobby Julich stood down from his role as race coach. American Julich admitted to having taken a banned substance in the late 1990s during his racing career and his two-year spell came to an end on Thursday.

Team Sky, in a statement, said: "After Team Sky reaffirmed its position on anti-doping, the management team started a series of individual interviews with riders, management and support staff. Sean has been interviewed and there were no admissions or disclosures that would have required him to leave the team."

After retiring from full-time riding in 1996, Yates briefly worked with the Linda McCartney team before switching to Discovery in 2005.

There he took Lance Armstrong, with whom he had forged a successful personal relationship in his riding days, to the last of his seven -- now rescinded -- Tour de France titles before moving on to Team Sky.

Irish Independent

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