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Sir Chris Hoy retires from cycling

A Knight to remember: British cycling's Olympic golden boy Hoy rides off into the sunset after stellar career

: February – Wins sprint and keirin at London World Cup, an event which doubles as the Olympic test event. April – Wins keirin world title in Melbourne. Claims bronze in the sprint after being beaten by Kenny in the semi-final. August 2 – Wins fifth Olympic gold medal in London 2012 men's team sprint bringing him level on golds with Sir Steve Redgrave. August 7 – Wins the men's keirin at London 2012, his second gold of the Games and his sixth Olympic gold medal in total making him Britain's most successful Olympian.

2013: April 15 – Calls a media conference for April 18 in Edinburgh, where he is announces his retirement from competitive cycling.

'The desire to race in Glasgow was there, but when I started training again my body wasn't responding,' said Hoy. 'London took an incredible toll. I squeezed out every drop, really emptied the tank' – and in doing so, he won two gold medals, taking his tally to a record six Olympic golds, one more than Sir Steve Redgrave.

'I didn't want to turn up in Glasgow and not be successful,' Hoy continued. 'I didn't want to spend a year-and-a-half putting Sarra (his wife) and everything else to one side. And I don't want to be there to get a tracksuit and wave to the crowd — I wouldn't enjoy that.'

Although Hoy says there was no epiphany, if he had to pick one moment when his thoughts settled on retirement, it came – paradoxically enough – on a bike ride.

It was last month, towards the end of an eight-week holiday with Sarra, as they toured Asia and Australia.

'We were doing a road trip from Cairns to Adelaide,' says Hoy. 'The car had a roof rack with bikes, of course, and I was riding every day, first thing in the morning but also eating what I wanted and relaxing.

'As we got close to Adelaide, we stopped and I got the bike off and rode the last 100km. It was in the Barossa Valley, through the vineyards. Stunning. And I thought, “Yes, this is more like it.”

'I realised that I was associating the bike with pleasure, rather than the pain of training. It reminded me why I got into the sport in the first place.'

And it beat battering his body into
submission in a velodrome. As Hoy explains: 'People think that if you're
a good cyclist or tennis player or rugby player that you simply get out
of bed and do it.

'But you become good at it because of what you do day
after day, year after year. It's why I know I can't just turn up in
Glasgow and be competitive. Your body eventually says,: “Enough”.'

After London 2012 Hoy said he
desperately wanted to carry on to Glasgow, by which time he will be 38. But what
most didn't know at the time was that his build-up to his fourth
Olympics had been so difficult.

He was struck down with a back injury
just weeks before the Games, forcing him to return early from a
training camp in Germany. Then he mistakenly booked a flight home for
the wrong day, forcing a detour to Glasgow and a long journey for Sarra
to drive from their home in Cheshire to collect him.

Next morning, Hoy was called into the
Manchester Velodrome for a meeting with Dave Brailsford and Shane
Sutton.

'You're not riding the sprint,' Sutton told him. 'And the way
you're going, you're not riding the keirin, either.' Hoy was defending
Olympic champion in both events.

Flying the flag: Sir Chris Hoy of the leads out Great Britain at the 2012 Opening Ceremony

Flying the flag: Sir Chris Hoy of the leads out Great Britain at the 2012 Opening Ceremony

Gold star: Hoy shows off his medal after the Men's Keirin Track Cycling Final last year

Gold star: Hoy shows off his medal after the Men's Keirin Track Cycling Final last year

Pedal to the medal: Hoy during the keirin at the London Games

Pedal to the medal: Hoy during the keirin at the London Games

Victory parade: Hoy (right) and Sarah Storey are interviewed by Helen Skelton (left)

Victory parade: Hoy (right) and Sarah Storey are interviewed by Helen Skelton (left)

Sealed with a kiss: Hoy with his wife Sarra Kemp after winning a gold medal in the Velodrome last year

Sealed with a kiss: Hoy with his wife Sarra Kemp after winning a gold medal in the Velodrome last year

THE FUTURE FOR A KNIGHT RIDER

Sir Chris Hoy says he is looking forward to 'a bit of relaxation and living a more balanced life,' though he will also be working as an ambassador for Glasgow 2014 and Glasgow's Youth Olympics bid in 2018.

He is launching his own 'HOY' bike range at the end of May, and says he will step up his commitment to two main charities, Unicef and the Scottish Association for Mental Health.

Then there is motor racing. He competed in three races in Melbourne recently, finishing third in the series, and will take part in the Radical SR1 Cup, over four weekends from June.

'It's a hobby, not something I necessarily see myself doing to a great level. I love it. It reminds me of my early days racing BMX.'

In the end, making it to London at
all was an achievement. Acting as flag-bearer for Team GB at the Opening
Ceremony was an honour. And winning two gold medals, in the team sprint
and keirin, was a triumph.

'I enjoyed the post-Olympic period
far more than after Beijing,' says Hoy. 'It didn't come as such a shock.
But once I'd had my fill of eating, drinking, going to functions and
not exercising, I was desperate to get back into the routine of
training.

'In the autumn I was back in the gym
and on the track. I went to Perth for a training camp, then raced in
Rotterdam at New Year. But my body wasn't responding as I hoped it
would. It was nothing to panic about but I found when I pushed myself
harder I was nailed.

'I felt fit and healthy but I'm talking
about subtle differences and fractions of a second. Some days I'd wake
up feeling great but it was just little things; getting up in the
morning and really aching from a hard training session the day before.

'I didn't want to go to Glasgow and
not be capable of winning. I would enjoy seeing the event and the crowd
but I can do that better from the sidelines and I hope to have a role
as an ambassador or mentor. I'll certainly be there. But by not
competing it'll allow someone else to come into the team and I won't be
stealing the limelight. It won't be me plus team-mates.'

Hoy says he would like to mentor GB athletes at the Rio Olympics as well, 'If they'll have me.'

On
the eve of going public with his decision, Hoy said he had no doubts.
'I'm not in two minds. I'm content. I can walk away at the top level
without any lingering regrets. I would have loved to have a gold medal
from Glasgow, maybe a kilometre world record as well, but you've got to
realise when the time has come to stop.'

Winning personality: Chris Hoy with the 2008 2008 BBC Sports Personality Of The Year trophy

Winning personality: Chris Hoy with the 2008 2008 BBC Sports Personality Of The Year trophy

Oh what a Knight: Hoy with the Knighthood he received from the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace in 2008

Oh what a Knight: Hoy with the Knighthood he received from the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace in 2008

Asked what he would miss, Hoy said: 'The team, the banter, the routine. I like routine, turning up at the track and seeing the same guys, and being part of that team and being on a journey together.'

It is a journey that has seen cycling move from the margins to the mainstream, with Hoy arguably the central figure in this sporting revolution.

'When I think of how cycling was when I started and then think where it is now, it's been a hell of a ride,' he said.

And the things he won't miss 'The way you feel in the morning after certain sessions, gym sessions in particular, which leave you with residual soreness for several days,' he said.

'Waking up with that muscle soreness, knowing you've got to do it all again, I'll not miss that.

'But that's a very small price to pay for the highs you get from working hard,' Hoy added. 'People say it's a sacrifice, but it's not a sacrifice. You choose to do it, but it's going to be nice to put something else first for a change and get a bit of balance in my life.'

Hoy said he would continue cycling 'to keep myself fit and fight the beer belly'.

As for the future, Hoy has charity commitments, he is launching a range of bikes and becoming an adviser to the Scottish Rugby Union. He will also act as mentor to the Scottish team at Glasgow 2014, and said he would relish a similar role with Team GB at the Rio Olympics – 'if they'll have me'.

Triple crown: Chris Hoy celebrates winning his third gold medal of the 2008 Olympics in the men's sprint final

Triple crown: Chris Hoy celebrates winning his third gold medal of the 2008 Olympics in the men's sprint final

Golden boy (and girl): Triple gold medallist Chris Hoy (left) and double gGold medal-winning swimmer Rebecca Adlington arrive home from Beijing

Golden boy (and girl): Triple gold medallist Chris Hoy (left) and double gGold medal-winning swimmer Rebecca Adlington arrive home from Beijing

Modest to the last, he rejected the
label of 'Britain's greatest Olympian'
despite being the only one with six
gold medals – one more than his
own choice as No 1. 'It's subjective,
but I think Sir Steve Redgrave is the
greatest. To keep going for five consecutive
Games and be at the top, to
me that is a far greater achievement
than winning multiple medals at one
games.'

In the end, in equally typical Hoy
fashion, he said he had no doubts
about retirement. 'I'm not in two
minds. I'm content. I can walk away
at the top level without any lingering
regrets. I would have loved to have a
gold medal from Glasgow, but you've
got to realise when the time has come
to stop.'

BOA chairman Lord Coe paid tribute to
Hoy, saying: 'Throughout his remarkable career, Sir Chris Hoy has
exemplified the values that define an Olympic champion. His pursuit of
excellence has been tireless. His respect for opponents, and commitment
to clean competition, has been unwavering.

And his dignity in victory has set
an example that generations of Team GB athletes will strive to emulate.
Chris is an icon and he has earned a revered place among our nation's
greatest sporting heroes.

'His
gold medal triumphs this past summer in London are two of the defining
moments of the Games, and were a source of pride and inspiration for
millions throughout our country.

'We
are grateful that Chris has chosen to continue his association with the
British Olympic Association by serving as a Glasgow 2018 Champion in
its bid to host the Youth Olympic Games.

'As
he transitions now from his unparalleled competitive career and takes
on a series of new and different challenges, we wish Sir Chris the very
best for continued success, and we thank him for his commitment to Team
GB and the Olympic movement.'

LIFE AND TIMES OF SIR CHRIS HOY – IN HIS OWN WORDS

My three favourite memories

'I can't choose three, so can I have
four The first is 1999, the World Championships in Berlin, and our
first medal in the team sprint. I had this feeling of euphoria and
disbelief.

That the three of us [Craig MacLean and Jason Queally were
his teammates] could have a world championship silver medal, seemed
incredible. It was the first British sprint medal since the Reg Harris
era. There was a feeling that there may be possibilities beyond that,
but I remember thinking: if I do nothing else, I can always say I won a
world championship medal. It's weird to think that now.

'The second is winning the kilo at the
2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester. My first individual title, and so
close to home. There were so many Scottish folk in the crowd, too. To
beat the Olympic champion [Queally] on home soil was special. I felt I
was stepping out of the shadow of Jason and Craig.

'The third is my gold medal in the kilo
at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. The moment that meant most, and which I
remember most vividly, was when I was waiting to step on to the top step
of the podium and I heard my name followed by “Olympic champion.”

'Then, finally, winning gold in the keirin at London 2012. What an amazing way to finish it off.'

My 3 toughest opponents

Jason Kenny

'Jason, my young British team-mate and
good friend, also became one of my toughest opponents. He never has any
fear. He is never affected by pressure, never intimidated. The way he
stepped into the team in Beijing was amazing.

'He took it in his stride
and never fussed about anything. His attitude always seems to be that he
has nothing to lose. And he is the same in any situation. He also has
an incredible turn of speed and acceleration.'

Arnaud Tournant, France

'He was the one I looked up to when I
started doing the kilo [in 2001]. He had an aura about him, and although
he seemed more human after Sydney, where Jason [Queally] beat him, he
was still the benchmark.

'I never managed to beat his world record but we
had some amazing battles. I beat him by a thousandth of a second in at
the world champs in Copenhagen [2002], then he was second to me at the
worlds in Melbourne and in Athens [both 2004]. He's a big, big
personality, a real showman. A really tough opponent, but off the bike
we became good friends.'

Theo Bos, Holland

'Theo is so classy, he had so much style
and flair, and he was almost unbeatable before 2008. When I beat him in
the quarter finals at the world championships that year it was a
turning point for me.

'Knocking him out in Olympic year, in front of a
home crowd [in Manchester], was massive for me. It was also the
beginning of the end for him. He stopped track racing and now rides on
the road.'

My three non-cycling sporting heroes

Gavin Hastings

'Rugby was my sport in my early teens
and Gavin Hastings, 'Big Gav', was my first sporting hero, before Graeme
Obree. Hastings went to the same school as me [George Watson's College
in Edinburgh. Hoy captained Edinburgh Schools at under-15 level]. He was
a great player and a great Scottish captain. Having since had the
honour of meeting him, he is a lovely guy, too.'

Roger Federer

Federer is one of the guys all sports
people aspire to be like. His longevity, his record, the way he handles
himself. He's not a guy who, if he gets beaten, disappears. He's a
classy player and a classy professional athlete.'

Michael Johnson

'The Usain Bolt of his era. I admired
his approach to training. Listening to him talk about his methodical
approach, and his mindset, it was something I could relate to. And he
was just awesome to watch.

'Even more than the 100 metres with Bolt, the gap
would open up, the race was his, and it was a race for second place. It's a
shame he wasn't in the same era as Bolt because it would have been
great to see them go head-to-head over 200m.

Sir Chris Hoy talks of his historic sixth Olympic gold win

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VIDEO: Watch Hoy win his sixth Olympic gold medal at London 2012

Track Cycling World Championships: Jason Kenny wins keirin and Simon Yates wins points race

Riding his luck! Kenny wins world keirin title in Minsk after being reinstated into final

By
Matt Mcgeehan, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

18:23 GMT, 22 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

18:48 GMT, 22 February 2013

Three-time Olympic champion Jason Kenny won gold in the men's keirin final on day three of the Track Cycling World Championships in Minsk as Great Britain claimed victory in successive events.

After Simon Yates won the men's points race on his senior World Championships debut, Kenny succeeded Sir Chris Hoy as world keirin champion to claim Britain's third gold of the first World Championships on the road to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

The 24-year-old from Bolton was second entering the final lap and rounded Maximilian Levy to triumph. The German was second, with Holland's Matthijs Buchli third.

Fortune: Kenny finished fourth in the semi-final but heat winner Francois Pervis was relegated

Fortune: Kenny finished fourth in the semi-final but heat winner Francois Pervis was relegated

It is his second World Championships
title, but first won on the bike after the 2011 sprint crown was awarded
retrospectively when Gregory Bauge was stripped of the prize for an
anti-doping infringement.

Kenny's win came the hard route.

In an event taking place in the
absence of defending world champion and Olympic gold medal winner Hoy,
who is taking a sabbatical as he weighs up his future, Britain were
represented by Kenny and Matt Crampton.

The duo were drawn together in the first heat and fell into the repechage after failing to finish in the first two.

Only one advanced and Kenny did so, eliminating Crampton in the process.

Kenny received a reprieve to advance
to the final after finishing fourth in his semi-final following a photo
finish, with only three progressing.

However, France's Francois Pervis was
relegated by officials for impeding a rider on the inside and the Briton
progressed as the third-placed rider behind Australian duo Andrew
Taylor and Scott Sunderland.

The Lancastrian found his form in the final and won with aplomb.

Meanwhile, Yates marked his senior Track Cycling World Championships debut with a stunning gold in the men's points race.

The 20-year-old from Bury rode maturely and impressively throughout the 160-lap (40-kilometre) event, which features 16 sprints, to claim a sensational victory in an event which could return to the Olympics in 2016.

He accumulated 35 points, to win by one from Eloy Teruel Rovira of Spain, with Russia's Kirill Sveshnikov third on 30 points.

Gold: Britain's Simon Yates celebrates after winning the points race in Minsk

Gold: Britain's Simon Yates celebrates after winning the points race in Minsk

Gold: Britain's Simon Yates celebrates after winning the points race in Minsk

Yates was in contention throughout but made his move late. He raced for one point at the 14th sprint and continued his effort to join the lead group, distancing himself from his rivals.

Five points in the penultimate sprint took Yates to within one point of the lead, held by Spain's Teruel Rovira. The lead group were caught with six-and-a-half laps to go, with Yates' main rivals brought back to the bunch.

But the Briton had the skill and speed to claim third on the final sprint to finish with a world champion's rainbow jersey at the first attempt.

It was a ride which will have left his coach Chris Newton impressed. Newton won bronze in the points race in Beijing in 2008 before the event was dropped from the Olympic programme.

Track Cycling World Championship gold for Laura Trott, Dani King and Elinor Barker

Olympic hero Trott at full pelt to lead Britain to their first gold of World Championships

By
Sam Cunningham

PUBLISHED:

17:45 GMT, 21 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

02:58 GMT, 22 February 2013

Great Britain's women brought golden memories of last summer’s Olympic Games flooding back by successfully defending their world team pursuit title.

Laura Trott and Dani King, who won Olympic gold with Joanna Rowsell, teamed up with A-level student Elinor Barker to clinch gold in the Track Cycling world championships in Minsk.

They completed the 3km race in 3min 18.140sec to beat Australia’s Annette Edmondson, Ashlee Ankudinoff and Melissa Hoskins by 1.773sec.

Wheely good: Laura Trott, Dani King and Elinor Barker won women's team pursuit gold in Minsk

Wheely good: Laura Trott, Dani King and Elinor Barker won women's team pursuit gold in Minsk

This is the last time the women’s
team pursuit will feature in its current format. It is set to be
extended to four kilometres and an extra rider added.

Trott said: ‘It seemed to flow nicely
and we changed a few things from qualifying and it came off. If someone
thought they couldn’t cope on the front they came off. It tops it off
for us. To win the race the last time it will be as a 3km is amazing.’

Barker added: ‘I feel really
overwhelmed. I thought I was just riding round the Manchester Velodrome
in a training ride and then we won. I just feel shocked. It is above and
beyond what I’ve dreamed of.’

King said: ‘It means everything.
We’ve worked so hard since the Olympic Games and although Jo Rowsell
will come back, it’s great to have Elinor on the team.’

Wheely good: Laura Trott, Dani King and Elinor Barker won women's team pursuit gold in Minsk

Wheely good: Laura Trott, Dani King and Elinor Barker won women's team pursuit gold in Minsk

Wheely good: Laura Trott, Dani King and Elinor Barker won women's team pursuit gold in Minsk

Becky James, who is one of
Sportsmail’s Magnificent Seven who we are tracking to the Rio Olympics,
won her second bronze of the championships in the 500m time trial.

Martyn Irvine became the first
Irishman to win a medal at the championships in 117 years when he won
gold and silver within an hour of each other.

‘I’m not sure it’s hit me yet,’ said Irvine. ‘I just can’t believe I’m standing here with a rainbow jersey.’

Irvine came second in the individual
pursuit, beaten by reigning champion Michael Hepburn, and won gold in
the 15km scratch race.

Gold standard: The girls celebrate with their hard-fought medals

Gold standard: The girls celebrate with their hard-fought medals

In a dramatic finish, Irvine accelerated away with 10 laps to go and managed to hold off his rivals.

He added: ‘I just stuck to what I know, just committed 100 per cent and it paid off.

‘I just stayed near the front, stayed out of trouble. Once I went, it was all or nothing. I didn’t look back. It was full gas.’

Lance Armstrong given two week deadline extension on co-operation with investigators

Disgraced Armstrong given two week extension on investigation co-operation deadline

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

01:41 GMT, 7 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

01:42 GMT, 7 February 2013

The US Anti-Doping Agency have announced Lance Armstrong wants to 'assist in the effort to clean up the sport of cycling' and have given the disgraced cyclist a two-week extension to co-operate with investigators.

Armstrong had been given until yesterday to confess all under oath after admitting to doping during each of his seven Tour de France triumphs in a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey last month.

However, USADA have set a new deadline.

Extension: Lance has two more weeks to co-operate

Extension: Lance has two more weeks to co-operate

Chief executive Travis Tygart said in a statement: 'We have been in communication with Mr. Armstrong and his representatives and we understand that he does want to be part of the solution and assist in the effort to clean up the sport of cycling.

'We have agreed to his request for an additional two weeks to work on details to hopefully allow for this to happen.'

USADA revealed last year that Armstrong had led 'the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme sport has ever seen'.

The UCI, cycling's world governing body, stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour titles – none of which were reassigned – and he was banned from sport for life.

Armstrong told Winfrey he would 'be the first man through the door' to take part in a truth and reconciliation hearing.

First man: Lance said he would not be the last person 'through the door'

First man: Lance said he would not be the last person 'through the door'

And in an email interview with cyclingnews.com, the American was adamant a truth and reconciliation commission is the only way forward for all endurance sports.

'It's not the best way, it's the only way,' he said.

'As much as I'm the eye of the storm this is not about one man, one team, one director.

'This is about cycling and to be frank it's about ALL endurance sports.'

Armstrong stated the UCI should not be involved in a TRC, believing the World Anti-Doping Agency should lead it.

Asked why WADA and not USADA should run the process, Armstrong said: 'No brainer. This is a global sport not an American one. One thing I'd add – the UCI has no place at the table.

'When I was on speaking terms with ol' Pat McQuaid (the UCI president) many, many months ago I said, 'Pat, you better think bold here. A full-blown, global, TRC is our sport's best solution.' He wanted to hear nothing of it.'

Olympic Cycling programme could have three events added to it

Cycling shake up could see three more events added for Rio Olympics

but the event could be removed in an event shake up” class=”blkBorder” />

Changing times: Laura Trott won the omnium at London 2012 but the event could be removed in an event shake up

The 2016 Olympic Games cycling programme could be extended after the International Cycling Union agreed to make a proposal for the addition of three events.

The Olympic track programme was radically altered between the Games of Beijing 2008 and London 2012 to create gender parity, but saw traditional endurance disciplines marginalised in favour of the multi-event omnium.

It has been suggested another overhaul could see the omnium – the women's event in London was won by Britain's Laura Trott – removed for Rio, but the UCI made no reference to this at its meeting ahead of the Cyclo-Cross World Championships in Louisville.

Instead the UCI will bid for points races, which featured in Beijing, to return, plus an extension to the BMX and mountain bike programmes which in London 2012 featured one discipline.

A statement from the UCI management committee read: 'With regards to the 2016 Olympic Games to be held in Rio de Janeiro (BRA), the management committee expressed its support for a proposal to be made to the International Olympic Committee for the addition to the cycling programme of a points race and BMX freestyle and mountain bike eliminator events for both men and women.'

Lance Armstrong: Australian library brands his books works of fiction

From inspirational tale to work of fiction: Australian library re-shelves Armstrong books after doping confession

By
Adam Shergold

PUBLISHED:

17:46 GMT, 20 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

17:46 GMT, 20 January 2013

Lance Armstrong's fall from grace after admitting to using performance-enhancing drugs shows no signs of slowing.

The professional cycling fraternity has shunned him, the sponsors have dropped him and just about everyone else he's ever crossed is about to sue him.

And now, his books – once an inspirational story of how to overcome adversity – have been re-shelved and re-categorised from 'must-read autobiography' to 'fiction.'

Works of fiction: This sign was on display at Manley Library in Sydney, Australia following the Lance Armstrong revelations on the Oprah Winfrey Show at the end of last week (below)

Works of fiction: This sign was on display at Manley Library in Sydney, Australia following the Lance Armstrong revelations on the Oprah Winfrey Show at the end of last week (below)

Confession time: Lance Armstrong is interviewed by Oprah Winfrey

Confession time: Lance Armstrong is interviewed by Oprah Winfrey

Manly Library in Sydney, Australia caused a few smirks after they moved three Armstrong titles this weekend.

A sign at reception read: 'All non-fiction Lance Armstrong titles, including 'Lance Armstrong: Images Of A Champion,' 'The Lance Armstrong Performance Program' and 'Lance Armstrong: World's Greatest Champion,' will soon be moved to the fiction section.'

I wonder how many people will be suddenly very keen to find out what 'The Lance Armstrong Performance Program' involves.

It comes as Armstrong, 41, took to the Oprah Winfrey chat show in the United States to come clean about being at the centre of one of the most sophisticated doping programmes in the history of sport and appealed for forgiveness from the public.

Seventh heaven: Armstrong celebrates winning his final Tour de France title in 2005 - he was stripped of all seven titles after confessing to taking performance-enhancing drugs

Seventh heaven: Armstrong celebrates winning his final Tour de France title in 2005 – he was stripped of all seven titles after confessing to taking performance-enhancing drugs

In a sensational interview, broadcast late last week, Armstrong, the seven-time Tour de France champion, admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs during the most successful part of his career.

But his confession came with a belief that he should be given a second chance to compete.

Today, disgraced former sprinter Ben Johnson said that Armstrong will be quickly forgiven by the American public following his admission.

Johnson, who was stripped of his 100m gold medal from the 1988 Seoul Olympics after testing positive for anabolic steroids, said 'It's going to be fine for him in a few months.'

Disgraced: Sprinter Ben Johnson was stripped of his 100m gold from the 1988 Seoul Olympics after testing positive for banned steroids

Disgraced: Sprinter Ben Johnson was stripped of his 100m gold from the 1988 Seoul Olympics after testing positive for banned steroids

David Weir hits out at New Year Honours system

Weir having to win more medals to get recognised! Paralympic hero hits out at New Year Honours system after CBE

|

UPDATED:

11:31 GMT, 29 December 2012

Six-time gold medallist David Weir has suggested Paralympians have to work harder to earn recognition than their non-disabled counterparts.

Weir has been recognised with a CBE for winning four gold medals at this summer's London Games, but the wheelchair athlete was not among the five sporting dames and knights created.

Olympic cyclist Bradley Wiggins and British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford have both been knighted, as has sailor Ben Ainslie, with Paralympic cyclist Sarah Storey becoming a dame after taking her gold medal tally to 11 to match Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson's record.

Golden boy: David Weir won four events at London 2012

Golden boy: David Weir won four events at London 2012

British rowing performance director David Tanner has also been knighted.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Weir said: 'I am absolutely honoured to receive this award.

'I would have been disappointed if Sarah Storey had not been made a dame because she deserves it with 11 gold medals.

'It's a weird one how they choose it. Sometimes it seems that Paralympians have to win lots and lots of medals to get a damehood or a knighthood.

What a summer: Weir played his part in a brilliant period for British sport

What a summer: Weir played his part in a brilliant period for British sport

'Kelly Holmes was made a dame when she won two gold medals, but it seems we have to get into double figures to get it.

'Sarah Storey should have been awarded this years ago, and I just feel that sometimes we are left out perhaps because we are not in the public eye.

'It is a bit strange, but I am just honoured to get anything from the Queen for doing a sport I love.'

Weir is the only disabled athlete among five CBEs with only two Paralympians receiving OBEs.

Lance Armstrong doping affair: Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson lands role investigating links with UCI

Baroness Grey-Thompson lands role investigating Armstrong's links with UCI

|

UPDATED:

16:42 GMT, 30 November 2012

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson has been named on a three-person panel to assess the Lance Armstrong affair and the role of the International Cycling Union in the scandal.

The UCI in October ratified the sanctions recommended by the United States Anti-doping Agency, who conducted an investigation which concluded Armstrong and his United States Postal Service team ran 'the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen'.

Allegations of complicity and insider knowledge were levelled at the UCI and its leadership – all of which have been denied – and 11-time Paralympic champion Grey-Thompson forms part of the independent commission set up to establish the facts.

Disgraced: Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles

Disgraced: Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles

Australian John Coates, the president of the International Council of Arbitration for Sport assembled the commission, which is independent of the UCI and will be chaired by former Court of Appeal judge Sir Philip Otton Australian lawyer Malcolm Holmes QC will join Lords peer Grey-Thompson on the panel.

Armstrong did not cooperate with the USADA investigation and has been banned for life and stripped of all results from August 1, 1998, including seven Tour de France titles.

Investigating Armstrong: Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson

Investigating Armstrong: Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson

Cycling doping book The Secret Race wins Sports Book of the Year

Cycling doping expose wins sports book of the year prize in shocking year for the sport

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UPDATED:

23:12 GMT, 26 November 2012

In the year former cycling legend Lance Armstrong was shown up to be a drugs cheat the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award has gone to a work exposing the culture of doping in the sport.

The Secret Race, written by Tyler Hamilton, the American who returned his 2004 Olympics gold medal because he also used performance enhancing drugs, and author Daniel Coyle has been hailed as a 'landmark publication'.

Hamilton was Armstrong's teammate on the US Postal Service cycling team during the 1999, 2000 and 2001 Tour de France competitions.

Curtain raising book: Lance Armstrong rides with Tyler Hamilton (left), whose work won the 2012 prize

Curtain raising book: Lance Armstrong rides with Tyler Hamilton (left), whose work won the 2012 prize

The Secret Race

The book was declared the winner on Monday at Waterstones in Picadilly, London by John Inverdale and has been commended for its openness and honesty, as it turned the spotlight on to cycling's shame.

In 2009 Tyler met writer Coyle for dinner (the two had met five years earlier while Coyle was writing his bestselling book, Lance Armstrong: Tour de Force) and explained he wanted to come clean in print.

Some of the material helped bring down the curtain surrounding Armstrong.

Co-founder of the prize, Graham Sharpe, said: 'The mysterious world of cycling holds a certain fascination in the public consciousness – now more than ever following the recent home-grown success in the sport.

'The Secret Race lifts the lid on that world and delivers a shocking and jaw-droppingly frank account of what it’s like to compete at the highest level.'

The pair win 24,000 in cash, a 2,000 William Hill bet, a specially-commissioned hand-bound copy of their book and a day at the races.

Inverdale was on the judging panel, alongside PFA chairman Clarke Carlisle, journalist Hugh McIlvanney, author and columnist Alyson Rudd, and broadcaster Danny Kelly, while John Gaustad, the other co-creator of the award, chaired it.

SPORTS BOOK OF THE YEAR DETAILS

WINNER

The Secret Race – Inside the Hidden World
of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups, and Winning at All Costs by
Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle (Bantam Press)

SHORTLISTED

That Near-Death Thing – Inside the TT: The World’s Most Dangerous Race by Rick Broadbent (Orion)

Running with the Kenyans – Discovering The Secrets of the Fastest People on Earth by Adharanand Finn (Faber)

Be Careful What You Wish For by Simon Jordan (Yellow Jersey)

Fibber in the Heat by Miles Jupp (Ebury Press)

A Life Without Limits – A World Champion’s Journey by Chrissie Wellington, with Michael Aylwin (Constable & Robinson)

Shot and a Ghost: A Year in the Brutal
World of Professional Squash by James Willstrop with Rod Gilmour (James
Willstrop / Rod Gilmour)

PREVIOUS WINNERS

2011 – A Life Too Short: The Tragedy of Robert Enke by Ronald Reng

2010 – Beware of the Dog: Rugby’s Hardman Reveals All by Brian Moore

2009 – Harold Larwood: The Authorized Biography of the World’s Fastest Bowler by Duncan Hamilton

2008 – Coming Back to Me: The Autobiography by Marcus Trescothick

2007 – Provided You Don’t Kiss Me: 20 Years With Brian Clough by Duncan Hamilton

2006 – Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson by Geoffrey Ward

2005 – My Father and Other Working-Class Football Heroes by Gary Imlach

2004 – Basil D’Oliveira: Cricket and Controversy by Peter Oborne

2003 – Broken Dreams: Vanity, Greed and the Souring of British Football by Tom Bower

2002 – In Black and White: The Untold Story of Joe Louis and Jesse Owens by Donald McRae

2001 – Seabiscuit: The True Story of Three Men and a Racehorse by Laura Hillenbrand

2000 – It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life by Lance Armstrong and Sally Jenkins

1999 – A Social History of English Cricket by Derek Birley

1998 – Angry White Pyjamas: An Oxford Poet Trains with the Tokyo Riot Police by Robert Twigger

1997 – A Lot of Hard Yakka: Triumph and Torment – A County Cricketer’s Life by Simon Hughes

1996 – Dark Trade: Lost in Boxing by Donald McRae

1995 – A Good Walk Spoiled: Days and Nights on the PGA Tour by John Feinstein

1994 – Football Against the Enemy by Simon Kuper

1993 – Endless Winter: The Inside Story of the Rugby Revolution by Stephen Jones

1992 – Fever Pitch; A Fan’s Life by Nick Hornby

1991 – Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times by Thomas Hauser

Matt Parker will learn rugby is not exact science – Chris Foy

New guru Parker will soon learn rugby is not an exact science

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UPDATED:

23:00 GMT, 22 November 2012

When England were building towards their 2003 World Cup triumph, Clive Woodward repeatedly talked of the ‘one per centers’ — the focus on minor details which combined to give his side a crucial advantage.

Now the concept is back on the agenda for the national team, but this time they are taking their cue from British Cycling. Matt Parker, the sports scientist who was head of ‘marginal gains’ and played such a part in the glorious exploits in the Olympic Velodrome during London 2012, will soon be working at Twickenham as head of athletic performance.

It was unfortunate that news of the appointment should come on the back of a grim home defeat. This presented a comedic open-goal, and sure enough one wag on Twitter quipped: ‘It isn’t a marginal gain they need, it’s a cavernous gain.’

Different ball game: Matt Parker was head of 'marginal gains' for the cycling team at the Olympics

Different ball game: Matt Parker was head of 'marginal gains' for the cycling team at the Olympics

Yet, what the new recruit represents is an encouraging desire for England to set global standards once again, using any trump card they can muster. Expertise from within the ranks of British Cycling could serve as a major asset in that regard.

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However, what Parker will find is a sport where the appliance of science is, in a sense, a more subtle and complex business than it is in cycling. Rugby presents a less defined challenge for his winning methods. Granted, much comes down to physical preparation and a successful mind-set, which he will recognise, but raw emotion and collective will come into the equation in a way he may not.

Rugby and science have become joined at the hip. Players wear GPS tracking devices to gauge speed and movement, their heart-rate is monitored and analysed. Diets are strictly controlled, gym regimes are meticulously prepared.

But this is a game which puts an onus on raw courage and that cannot be drilled, although the work of psychologists helps. And old-school values have not been wholly eradicated. In France, there is still plenty of bread on the table and many players still enjoy a drop of red. Saracens have made a virtue of their ‘bonding’ weekends at Munich’s Oktoberfest and elsewhere.

There was a striking contrast after Argentina’s win in Cardiff this month. While the vanquished trooped off for stints in an ice chamber to aid their recovery, the victors cracked open a crate of cider. So, England are right to embrace progress and a visionary approach but they would be wise to strike a balance between new ways and old.

Quote of the week

England flanker Tom Wood reveals how he manages a persistent foot problem with this unusual alternative to a traditional spa session: ‘I put my foot in ice — I make it hot and cold to flush inflammation out.

‘I also claw with my feet in buckets of sand and rice in order to strengthen the toes. I try to do it three times a day. It’s generally done down in the physio room.

‘It’s quite nice here at Pennyhill Park, we have the massage and physio room downstairs, with the TV on, so I can just head down there and get the various treatments I need. I can get pampered for an afternoon in a bucket of rice!’

Rice is nice: Tom Wood loves to be pampered in a bucket of grain

Rice is nice: Tom Wood loves to be pampered in a bucket of grain

You’re still a hero at Exeter, Tom

Rob Baxter, Exeter’s director of rugby, evidently has a canny grasp of man-management. On Tuesday, he was given the unexpected news that Tom Johnson would be back with the Chiefs this weekend, after being dropped by England. His response was of the arm-round-the-shoulder kind — a strong public statement of faith in his surely despondent player.

‘Tom’s been incredibly unlucky but sometimes players get dropped on the back of a team performance rather than an individual one and that is what has happened with him,’ said Baxter. ‘He’s in that unfortunate position where he hasn’t done anything wrong. Most people have been very complimentary about the way he’s played.

‘I’m a little upset for Tom, but sometimes it’s a case of, “Last man in, first man out”, when they’ve looked to make changes, which I can understand.’

Thus, Baxter tactfully questioned England’s selection and bolstered Johnson’s self-esteem. Expect the flanker to respond with a storming performance against London Irish on Sunday.

The final word

To call this a big weekend for Wales would be something of an under-statement.

With the edifice of Welsh rugby seemingly on the brink of collapse, Lions coach Warren Gatland is back at the helm, with a Midas touch needed to avert a calamity against the All Blacks. Mixed messages are emerging about morale in the ranks.

Blame game: Warren Gatland said the media created a 'rift' in his squad

Blame game: Warren Gatland said the media created a 'rift' in his squad

On the one hand, the Kiwi was relaxed when naming his side and revealed that a quip to his management team at the start of the week that ‘the Messiah is back’ was met by a mocking put-down, which he took to be an encouraging sign.

Yet, on the other hand, Gatland condemned the media for supposedly creating a ‘rift’ between openside rivals Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric, while Jonathan Davies laid bare the hurt over criticism of players on Twitter.

If there is a concerted attempt to circle the wagons and create an us-against-the-world, siege mentality ahead of tomorrow’s clash with New Zealand, that could be an astute move. But if these are indications of a thin-skinned squad feeling the strain, heaven help them when Richie McCaw and Co set about them.