Cooke quits with parting shot at dopers
Nicole Cooke has attacked the inequality in cycling, drugs cheats and the world governing body after announcing an end to her stellar 13-year career.
The 29-year-old from Swansea, who was the first cyclist, male or female, to win Olympic and world road race gold in the same year in 2008, announced her retirement in central London on Monday.
"My time in the sport is finished," the 10-time British champion said. "I am very happy with my career. I have many, many happy memories over what has been my life's work since I was 12. I have won every race and more that I dreamed I could win."
Cooke was a trailblazer for cycling in Britain, particularly for women's racing. She also hopes the sport will rid itself of doping, a topic she felt compelled to speak about in a week when Lance Armstrong will be interviewed for the first time since being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles for drugs offences.
"I have ridden through some of the darkest days of the sport in terms of corruption by the cheats and liars," Cooke added. "I cannot change the era or time that I am born into. I am very proud that I have met the temptations head on and have not wavered in my honesty or sold my ideals.
"When Lance cries on Oprah later this week and she passes him a tissue, spare a thought for all of those genuine people who walked away with no reward, just shattered dreams. Each one of them is worth a thousand Lances."
Cooke claimed she was offered "medicines" from a team campervan during her first Tour de France, aged 19. When she refused, she went without pay for the rest of the season, while in her first few days as a professional she had to clear a fridge of doping products.
There have been fewer incidents of doping in women's racing, but the impact of the Armstrong scandal and many others before it have been hugely costly, with teams and events lost due to lack of sponsorship.
"Every scandal on the men's side has caused sponsors to leave on the women's side," added Cooke, while deriding the "rewards" offered to male dopers. "Tyler Hamilton (a former team-mate of Armstrong and whistle-blower) will make more money from his book describing how he cheated than Lyne Bessette (one of Cooke's former team-mates) or I will make in all our years of our honest labour.
"The situation requires the very basics of morality. Please don't reward people like Hamilton with money. There are many places infinitely more deserving than the filthy hands of Hamilton."
- Hospital campaigners hope Stafford songbird can soar up charts with protest song
- Chase MP Aidan Burley hands hundreds of pledges supporting Cannock Hospital to administrators
- Bishop of Stafford urges administrators to make Mid Staffs 'trail-blazer for NHS'
- Stafford pub closed for five years to pull pints once more
- Jewish businesswoman Sam Caldicott slams anti-HS2 group for 'disgusting' video
- Stafford Hospital A&E consultant calls for 'an end to mud-slinging'
- Shoppers mourn loss of town centre "flagship" store
- Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy calls for an end to 'hospital bitterness' after incidents mar peaceful protest
- Police aim to deliver a car crushing blow
- Stafford campaigner Julie Bailey says Sir David Nicholson 'should go now not next year'