FORMER TOUR DE FRANCE champion Bradley Wiggins says he had to find a new school for his children after they were “harassed and bullied” following the Lance Armstrong doping scandal.
Speaking from a training camp in Spain, Wiggins said he moved his two children Ben and Isabella to another school last year because they were repeatedly asked whether their father had used drugs like Armstrong, who was stripped of his seven Tour victories after admitting to doping throughout his career.
Wiggins told Britain’s Daily Telegraph that his victory in the 2012 Tour, when he became the first Briton to win cycling’s showcase event, affected him and his family.
The 33-year-old Olympic champion said he felt responsible for his children’s bullying and “it all added to my unhappiness at the time.”
That (winning the Tour) changed everything,” Wiggins told several British newspapers. “I left home pretty much unknown and came home the most famous man in the country for that week.
“It was hard for me and the family. It affected them as well. The Lance Armstrong thing in January… my kids started getting harassed at school. ‘Is your dad on drugs? He won the Tour. Is he the same as Lance Armstrong?’
“Horrendous stuff. Horrible. My son getting bullied at school. I had to move my kids from that school and move them to another school.
“I felt responsible for that and it all added to my unhappiness at the time. But a year on, it feels like a complete contrast. I feel much more comfortable in my own shoes now.”
Wiggins also said that his relationship with Team Sky colleague Chris Froome had improved, as the pair look to make an impact on this year’s Tour.
Froome rode in support of Wiggins during his Tour success in 2012 before succeeding him as champion in 2013, but his achievement received less recognition in Britain and he was dogged by questions about doping in the wake of the Armstrong scandal.
“I kind of felt I won the public over, especially the French public, two years ago,” Wiggins said. “It’s like the film Gladiator — you win the public and you win your freedom.
“I kind of won my freedom, whereas the opposite happened with Chris, if you like. It would be nice to go back to the Tour and, if anything, just take the pressure off Chris a little bit. Take some of those questions for him and challenge people for him.”
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