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British Cycling chief Drake leaves job

LONDON (Reuters) - Ian Drake, the man who has presided over a golden era for British Cycling, stepped down as the governing body's chief executive on Friday, three months earlier than planned.

Drake, who has been involved with British Cycling for 20 years, the last eight as chief executive, announced in October that he would be leaving his post.

"British Cycling can confirm that Ian Drake has completed the handover phase following the announcement in October that he would be leaving the organization," a statement said.

"Consequently, Ian has been in discussions with the board of British Cycling with a view to leaving his role as chief executive earlier than planned. In recognition of the progress made, the board has agreed to allow Ian to step down with immediate effect."

Despite another memorable year in 2016, with Chris Froome winning the Tour de France and Britain scooping 12 medals, including six golds, at the Rio Olympics, British Cycling's image has taken a battering.

In April technical director Shane Sutton quit over allegations of sexist and discriminatory remarks, leading to an ongoing review by UK Sport into allegations of bullying in the governing body's elite cycle program.

British Cycling was also dragged into the controversy surrounding Team Sky's use of Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) after cyber-hackers released details of medications taken by Froome and Bradley Wiggins.

UK Anti-Doping is also conducting an investigation into allegations of wrongdoing in British Cycling, including a package sent to Team Sky rider Wiggins at the 2011 Dauphine.

British Cycling said it is cooperating fully with the investigations.

During Drake's reign Britain has grown into a cycling powerhouse and amateur participation has increased massively.

Britain has won 22 gold medals in cycling at the past three Olympics. Wiggins became Britain's first Tour de France winner in 2012 and Froome has won it three times since.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond)

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