MX23RW : Tuesday, August 21 17:23:33

Nicole Cooke retires from cycling

Cooke retires from cycling
© PA Photos
Beijing road race Olympic champion Nicole Cooke announces her retirement from professional cycling.

Beijing road race Olympic champion Nicole Cooke has announced her retirement from professional cycling with immediate effect.

The 29-year-old, who saw fellow Briton Lizzie Armitstead claim silver in the Olympics last summer, returned to action in September's World Championships, but finished in 60th position. Meanwhile, Cooke has also revealed that she was offered drugs during her career in the sport.

"I have had days where temptation to start onto the slippery slope was brought in front of me. In my Tour de France when I was 19 as the race went on my strength left me," she told reporters.

"I was invited into a team camper and asked what 'medicines' I would like to take to help me and was reminded that the team had certain expectations of me during the race and I was not living up to them with my performance over the last couple of stages.

"I said I would do my best until I had to drop out of the race, but I was not taking anything. I do despair that the sport will ever clean itself up when rewards of stealing are greater than riding clean. If that remains the case, the temptation for those with no morals will always be too great.

"When Lance Armstrong 'cries' on Oprah later this week and she passes him the tissue, spare a thought for all those genuine people who walked away with no rewards - just shattered dreams. Each one of them is worth a thousand Lances."

Cooke was named BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year in 2003.

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