sport

British Cycling looks to future

British successes in 2012 show the Lance Armstrong era is in the past and the future of cycling is bright, British Cycling said on Thursday.

Seven-time Tour de France champion Armstrong has been exposed by the United States Anti-Doping Agency as the leader of "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen". The American denies all allegations.

The scandal has cast a long shadow over a sport dogged by drug issues, but which is growing in popularity in the UK as a result of glory at the Olympic and Paralympic Games and Bradley Wiggins' Tour triumph in July, the first by a Briton.

British Cycling chief executive Ian Drake insists his organisation is leading the way in creating a new perception of the sport.

"We need to get the sport to the point where if you win a bike race you're not questioned," said Drake.

"We've still got a hangover from a really bad era in the sport.

"At British Cycling we're proud of our strong and long-standing record in the fight against doping.

"We've got to learn the lessons from the past and focus on where we want the sport to be.

"We've got nothing to hide. It's no secret that it is hard work, it's training... the focus on performance, that means you can win things and win things clean.

"Hopefully that's now showing everybody that we can take the sport to a better place.

"We don't ever want to go back to the kind of state the system was in. Let's take it to a better place."

Today Sky and British Cycling announced they have beaten their goal of getting one million more Britons cycling regularly by 2013.

The partnership began in 2008, with the goal of encouraging participation, and is set to continue for another four years.

"We wanted the investment going to the elite to deliver more than a medal," Drake added.

"We've had that international success inspiring people to get on a bike.

"It's been such a fantastic achievement to get a million more people riding their bikes on a regular basis."