Sir Bradley Wiggins has alleged that he was groomed by a coach when he was a 13 year old, saying that he had "buried" it, as he had no one to tell as a teenager.
In an interview with Mens Health UK, the former Tour de France winner said: "I was groomed by a coach when I was younger – I was about 13 – and I never fully accepted that.”
He confirmed that this was sexual grooming, adding: “It all impacted me as an adult… I buried it."
Wiggins said that he could not tell his stepfather, due to a violent relationship and the criticism he received for just wearing cycling clothing.
"My stepfather was quite violent to me, he used to call me a faggot for wearing Lycra and stuff, so I didn’t think I could tell him," he explained. "I was such a loner… I just wanted to get out of the environment. I became so insular. I was quite a strange teenager in many ways and I think the drive on the bike stemmed from adversity.”
He has spoken before about his mental health problems; the former Team Sky rider suffers from depression, but never his allegations of grooming.
Wiggins said that he has spent most of his life trying to work out his relationship with his father, the Australian cyclist Gary Wiggins, who left the family when Bradley was young and who died in 2008 following a fight at a house party.
“It was definitely to do with my dad," he said. "Never getting answers when he was murdered in 2008. He left us when I was little, so I met him for the first time when I was 18. We rekindled some kind of relationship but then we didn’t speak for the last couple of years before he was murdered…
"He was my hero. I wanted to prove myself to him. He was a good cyclist – he could have been really good – but he was a wasted talent. He was an alcoholic, a manic depressive, quite violent and he took a lot of amphetamines and [sports] drugs back then.”
The five-time Olympic champion said that he fell out of love with cycling after 2012, the year he won the Tour and the time trial discipline at the Olympics.
"Life was never the same again," Wiggins said. "I was thrust into this fame and adulation that came with the success…
"I’m an introverted, private person. I didn’t know who ‘me’ was, so I adopted a kind of veil – a sort of rock star veil. It wasn’t really me… It was probably the unhappiest period of my life. Everything I did was about winning for other people, and the pressures that came with being the first British winner of the Tour. I really struggled with it.”
On his relationship with Ineos Grenadiers boss Sir Dave Brailsford, Wiggins said he was like a "big brother".
“Oh yeah, we go back 20 years," he said. "He’s like a big brother, just maybe one I don’t talk to all the time. But you couldn’t go through all the success we had – British Cycling, Team Sky – without a bond.”
He was asked whether Brailsford was successful due to his ruthlessness, to which Wiggins replied "absolutely".
"He probably expected me to be more like him," he said. "My problem was there was a human being inside me. Dave is a big c**t, a proper c**t, and I say that as a term of endearment because to be successful you have to be. I was at times, Chris Froome was.
"You have to be ruthless and c**tish. It’s not nice, and you know you’re doing it, but you know if you take your foot off the gas, you’re going to pay a price.”
Wiggins also spoke about how he manages his mental health day-to-day.
"I have to have routine," he said. "Training every day, it’s important. Not drinking too much… With my depression, if I’m not looking after myself it manifests more like a mania.
"I always thought of depression as taking you to a dark room in a stoop. I try to be funnier and end up being shocking and contentious.”
Bradley Wiggins was speaking to Men’s Health ‘Talking Heads’ columnist, Alastair Campbell, in the May issue of the magazine, on sale from 20th April
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