British cycling star Sir Bradley Wiggins has revealed he was groomed by a coach when he was just 13 years old.
Speaking in an interview, the three-time Olympic champion explained how he felt he could not tell anyone about the abuse at the time due to a difficult relationship with his stepfather.
The 2012 Tour de France winner told Men’s Health UK magazine that he “never fully accepted” what happened and that it continued to affect him as he entered adulthood.
Asked if he was groomed sexually, Sir Bradley said: “Yes. It all impacted me as an adult…I buried it. My stepfather was quite violent to me, he used to call me a f****t for wearing Lycra and stuff, so I didn’t think I could tell him.
“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.”
The 41-year-old has previously spoken about suffering from depression and experiencing a difficult childhood.
His father, Australian cyclist Gary Wiggins, left the family when Sir Bradley was young and later died following a fight at a house party 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 said.
“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.”
Just four years after his father’s death, Sir Bradley became the first British winner of the Tour de France before winning an Olympic gold medal in London just days later.
Read more: British cycling great Sir Bradley Wiggins studying to be a social worker
Year of success was ‘probably the unhappiest period of my life’
Though he went on to have further successes, including winning a third Olympic team pursuit gold in 2016, he said 2012 was the year he stopped enjoying professional cycling.
He described the aftermath of his success as “probably the unhappiest” period of his life, adding that he “really struggled” with the pressure that came with winning the Tour.
Read more: Wiggins – From Boy Racer To Tour Champion
“After winning the Tour de France, then winning at the Olympics, life was never the same again,” Sir Bradley said.
“I was thrust into this fame and adulation that came with the success… I’m an introverted, private person.”
He added that he had since found a way to manage his mental health through having a routine, training every day, and “not drinking too much”.
“With my depression, if I’m not looking after myself it manifests more like a mania,” he said.
His full interview with Men’s Health ‘Talking Heads’ columnist Alastair Campbell will feature in the May issue of the magazine.