Team Sky has confirmed the departure of lead sports director Sean Yates and his retirement from professional cycling.
The British team insisted Yates’s departure was not forced by an admission of any kind.
A report in the Sunday Telegraph claimed Yates had left his role after an interview with general manager Dave Brailsford, who has stressed there must be a zero tolerance policy over doping within the team.
A statement from Team Sky said: “Sean Yates, Team Sky’s lead sports director since 2010, has decided to retire from cycling after three decades in the sport.
“After Team Sky reaffirmed its position on anti-doping, the management team started a series of individual interviews with riders, management and support staff.
“Sean has been interviewed and there were no admissions or disclosures that would have required him to leave the team.”
Yates was a high-profile recruit ahead of Team Sky’s first season two years ago. After retiring from full-time riding in 1996 following a career as one of the greatest domestiques of cycling’s modern era, Yates briefly worked with the Linda McCartney team before switching to Discovery in 2005.
There, he took Lance Armstrong, with whom he had forged a successful personal relationship in his riding days, to the last of his seven – now rescinded – Tour de France titles. He then moved on to Team Sky and was seen as a key figure in Bradley Wiggins’s triumph in this year’s Tour.
Yates acknowledges there will be rumours surrounding his exit from Team Sky but insists he is exiting the sport for personal reasons.
In a statement, the 52-year-old said: “The last three years with Team Sky have been fantastic and a highlight of my long career in cycling.
“I’m proud to have been involved with the team at such an incredible time for the sport.
“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.
“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.”
Brailsford led the praise for Yates’s contribution to Team Sky’s success.
Brailsford said: “Sean has been a great support to the riders on the road and a valuable colleague to us all. We wish him the best for the next step in his life.”