Monday 19 February 2018

Ian Drake to step down as British Cycling chief

Britain enjoyed a successful Olympic Games
Britain enjoyed a successful Olympic Games

Matt McGeehan

Ian Drake will step down as British Cycling chief executive in April, the national governing body has announced.

Drake's association with the national governing body began in 1995 and he has been chief executive since 2009.

But he quits after a year of highs and lows.

Great Britain topped cycling's medal table at the Rio Olympics and Paralympics, but there have been numerous controversies too.

In a statement, Drake said: "Some time ago I made the decision that the Rio Games would be my last as CEO of British Cycling.

"I believe that the end of this Olympic cycle is the natural moment for a new CEO to take the organisation forward into the Tokyo Games and beyond."

Drake in recent weeks has secured an eight-year sponsorship agreement with banking giant HSBC, replacing Sky as British Cycling's lead sponsor, and been part of the team which won the bid to bring the 2019 UCI Road World Championships to Yorkshire.

However, recent months have been the most challenging of his leadership.

Shane Sutton left his role as British Cycling technical director in April, 100 days prior to the Rio Olympics, following discrimination allegations.

Sutton denies the allegations, which prompted an independent review. The review, commissioned by British Cycling and UK Sport, is scheduled to conclude imminently.

And British Cycling's relationship with Team Sky is under scrutiny, too. Media giant Sky remains sponsor of the professional road team run by Dave Brailsford.

Team Sky and British Cycling have been intertwined since the road team's inception in 2009 and first season in 2010, with many staff and riders employed by both teams.

Team Sky are involved in a furore following the decision to seek permission for Bradley Wiggins to use otherwise banned substances, and Brailsford's squad is now part of a UK Anti-Doping investigation into allegations of "wrongdoing" in cycling.

Brailsford was British Cycling performance director until April 2014, when he left to concentrate on Team Sky. He worked closely with Drake.

Wiggins' use of the powerful anti-inflammatory triamcinolone was granted before three of his biggest races between 2011 and 2013, including the 2012 Tour de France which he won.

Wiggins, Brailsford and Team Sky deny wrongdoing, insisting the use was medically necessary to deal with a pollen allergy that aggravates Wiggins' long-standing asthma condition.

There is no suggestion any rules were broken and the therapeutic use exemptions were approved by the UCI, cycling's world governing body, and the relevant anti-doping authorities.

The news of Drake's departure means British Cycling is now searching for two leading figures.

British Cycling on Wednesday announced it was beginning the recruitment process for a new performance director.

And now it is also searching for a chief executive.

Drake can celebrate many successes during his tenure as cycling has become Britain's most successful Olympic sport, winning seven out of 10 gold medals on the track at Beijing 2008 and London 2012 and six out of 10 in August in Rio.

Wiggins became the first British Tour winner in 2012, in the 99th edition, with Chris Froome subsequently winning the race three times.

Meanwhile, British Cycling now has 120,000 members.

Drake added: "I have been involved with British Cycling in some form for almost 20 years, the last eight as CEO, and it is an organisation 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 in the years to come.

"All organisations, particularly those operating at the highest level of sport, periodically require new leadership to take them to greater heights and tackle their new challenges - now is the right moment for both myself and British Cycling to move on."

British Cycling president Bob Howden thanked Drake for overseeing "unprecedented success and growth".

Howden added: "It is also testament to his commitment to the organisation that he has chosen to announce this now so that we have time to conduct a comprehensive search for his successor."

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