Cooke retires, blasts UCI, doping scandals

Olympic champion Nicole Cooke hung up her cleats on Monday and took aim at the sport's unequal treatment of men and women, and doping

LONDON (AFP) — Nicole Cooke, the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games road race gold medalist, announced Monday she was retiring from cycling with immediate effect.

The 29-year-old Welshwoman, who also won the world road race title in 2008 and so became the first rider to take both major events in the same year, told Cycling Weekly that she was content with her career.

“I am very happy with my career. I have many, many happy memories over what has been my life’s work since I was 12,” she said. “I have won every race and more that I dreamed I could win.”

The 10-time British champion also used her retirement statement to criticize the UCI, cycling’s world governing body, for failing to promote women’s racing and for allowing drug cheats to go unpunished in men’s events.

“When Lance (Armstrong) cries on Oprah later this week and she passes him a tissue, spare a thought for all of those genuine people who walked away with no reward,” she said. “Tyler Hamilton will make more money from a book describing how he cheated than I will make in all my years of honest labor.”

Cooke won Britain’s first gold of the 2008 Olympic Games in a rainswept race by the Great Wall of China. Four years later in London she was also a member of the team that helped British rival Lizzie Armitstead win road race silver.