Cycling: Sean Yates insists retirement has no connection to Team Sky doping probe

Sports director denies investigation caused his departure, despite Armstrong links

Just three months after guiding Bradley Wiggins to Britain's greatest-ever victory in the history of road cycling, when the Londoner captured the country's first-ever Tour de France win, Sky's lead sports director, Sean Yates, has quit the team.

Yates's sudden resignation comes in the midst of the team's full-scale enquiry into management and riders' potential links to doping, but both the former Tour de France leader and his – now – ex-team insist that the his departure is purely for health and family reasons.

His past as a former team-mate of Lance Armstrong's and sports director on the American's team from 2005-7 had led to questions being raised about Yates's future at Sky when the British team announced their anti-doping probe – designed to ensure that anyone revealing past connections to banned drugs use, however distant, would be asked to leave.

However, Yates today insisted his departure had nothing to do with that investigation. "I have suffered with my health in recent years and have spent a lot of time away from my home so I feel the time is right to focus on myself and my family," he said.

"I realise the timing of my retirement will lead to speculation given what is currently going on in the sport but I can walk away with my head held high knowing I have done nothing wrong."

Yates has had a series of heart problems following his retirement from the sport in 1996, needing at least one operation and forcing him, on occasions, to stop riding at amateur level. His resignation from Britain's squad follows hard on the heels of the exit of Bobby Julich, another Team Sky coach, after the 1998 Tour de France finisher confessed to taking the banned blood-booster EPO for two years in the 1990s.

It is not known if others apart from Julich will leave the squad as a result of Sky's enquiries, with the Team Principal, Dave Brailsford, saying earlier this month that the investigation could take "years" to complete. Yesterday, Sky refused to comment on other possible cases. Repeated calls by The Independent to the team's press officer and Sky management were not returned.

"Sean has been interviewed and there were no admissions or disclosures that would have required him to leave the team," read a press statement issued by the team.

Yates, 52, was one of Britain's best-known and popular professionals from the 1980s and 1990s, leading the Tour for one day in 1994, and winning stages of both the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España. From 1992 to 1996, at the American squad Motorola, he was a team-mate of Armstrong's, where he was valued as a top domestique – team helper – and also secured fifth place in cycling's toughest one-day classic, the Paris-Roubaix.

After retiring, Yates then worked as sports director in the ill-fated Linda McCartney team – Bradley Wiggins's first-ever pro squad for a few weeks of 2001 before it collapsed when sponsors unexpectedly pulled out – as well as having the same role in Discovery Channel – Armstrong's team – from 2005 to 2007 and Alberto Contador's Astana squad in 2008, guiding the Spaniard to victory in the Giro d'Italia.

Yates claimed earlier this month that he saw nothing untoward at his time in Armstrong's squad, insisting his duties were purely on the logistical side of the team.

Signed by Sky as a manager in 2010, Yates worked closely with Wiggins as the Briton honed his approach to stage racing. When Wiggins clinched his breakthrough victory at the Critérium du Dauphine, the Tour's main warm-up race, in 2011, Yates was behind the driving wheel of the main support car and he was there again when the Londoner completed his series of historic wins for Sky this year with victory in the Tour.

With the new season due to start in just three months, the question of who will fill Sky's top director's spot is an increasingly pressing one for Brailsford. A significant percentage, though by no means all, of cycling's top managers have had direct or indirect links to banned drugs in the past and Sky's hardline anti-doping policy could make for a potentially long, painstaking search for Yates's replacement. But with the season's first major race, the Tour Down Under in Australia, in late January and training camps soon to get under way, time is not on their side.

Sean Yates' career in the saddle

Born Ewell, Surrey

Age 52

Years riding 1982-1996

Discipline Road (Domestique)

Professional teams

Peugeot (1982-1986)

Fagor (1987-1988)

7-Eleven (1989-1990)

Motorola (1991-1996)

Titles

British National Road Race Champion 1992

Wore the Maillot Jaune in the 1994 Tour de France

Managerial teams

Linda McCartney Racing Team (1996-2001)

Discovery Channel (2005-2009) Team Sky (2010-2012)

Yates after the publication of USADA’s doping evidence against Lance Armstrong: “It’s all pretty damning for Lance and the whole history of his seven Tour wins. My opinion is one of disappointment, I’m upset, really. [I’m shocked] at the depth of the whole system. I worked with Lance but never had any indication this practice was going on. I never saw any indication of anything dodgy going on.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Arts and Entertainment
'Deep Breath' is Peter Capaldi's first full-length adventure as the twelfth Doctor
TVFirst episode of new series has ended up on the internet
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# R&D .NET Developer-Algorithms, WCF, WPF, Agile, ASP.NET,MVC

£50000 - £67000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# R&D .NE...

C# Developer (Web, HTML5, CSS3, ASP.NET, JS, Visual Studios)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Developer (ASP.NET, F#, SQL, MVC, Bootstrap, JavaScript)

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Payment Developer (Swift, FOX, Vigil, .NET, SQL)

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Payment Dev...

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?