Sir Bradley Wiggins has alleged that he was sexually groomed by a coach when he was 13 years old. Wiggins, the first Briton to win the Tour de France and a three-time Olympic champion, said that he had “buried” what had 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 said in an interview with Men’s Health UK magazine about his allegations. Asked if he was groomed sexually, the 41-year-old added: “Yes. It all impacted me as an adult … I buried it.”
Wiggins said he had been unable to confide in his father as he used to beat him and criticise him for wearing cycling gear. “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 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 spoken about suffering from depression and a difficult childhood, but made the fresh revelation in the interview with Alastair Campbell for the May issue of Men’s Health, which goes on sale on Wednesday.
He also admitted that he had spent much of his life trying to understand his 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,” Wiggins said when asked what he had tried to run from in his life. “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 drugs back then.”
Wiggins also admitted that he had found it difficult to cope with the pressures of fame that came from winning the Tour and the Olympic time trial in 2012. “After winning the Tour de France, then winning at the Olympics, life was never the same again,” he 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.”