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Sir Bradley Wiggins has claimed he was sexually groomed by a cycling coach when he was 13.
Wiggins, the first Briton to win the Tour de France and a five-time Olympic champion, said the abuse impacted him during adult life and that he “buried” what happened because he had no one to turn to at the time.
“I was groomed by a coach when I was younger — I was about 13 — and I never fully accepted that,” Wiggins told Men’s Health magazine.
Asked if the grooming was of a sexual nature, Wiggins said: “Yes. It all impacted me as an adult... I buried it.”
The 41-year-old also opened up further about the difficult relationship he had with his stepfather growing up. Wiggins explained how he had no one to confide in about the grooming and said the abuse led to him being “a loner” and “insular”.
“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,” he said. “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.”
Wiggins has opened up before about suffering with depression and his difficult childhood, but made the fresh revelation in an interview with Alastair Campbell for the May issue of Men’s Health, which goes on sale tomorrow.
In the interview, Wiggins spoke honestly about a number of topics, including the relationship with his father, Australian cyclist Gary Wiggins, who walked out on 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 — never getting answers when he was murdered in 2008,” said Wiggins, when talking about the things he’s tried to run away from in life. “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.”
Wiggins became the first British winner of the Tour in 2012 before winning Olympic gold in the time trial days later. He has revealed, however, that was “the unhappiest period” of his life. He said: “After winning the Tour de France, then winning at the Olympics... life was never the same again. 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.”
Wiggins says he manages his mental health today by training every day and limiting the amount of alcohol he consumes.
“I have to have routine,” he added. “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.
“The pathway for me is taking control of what I want to do. For the first time in five years, whether or not I have a love-hate relationship with cycling, I accept the love. I’m not going to pull back from it, not do other stuff.”
Bradley Wiggins was speaking to Men’s Health ‘Talking Heads’ columnist, Alastair Campbell, in the May issue of the magazine, on sale from April 20.