British Cycling CEO is leaving his post "with immediate effect," the governing body has said. When it was announced in October that he was resigning from the organisation after seven years in the position, his departure date was given as this April. His earlier-than-expected departure leaves British Cycling with one of its key positions open at a time when the governing body is embroiled in controversy.
According to British Cycling, Drake's leaving date has been brought forward because he has completed handover of his duties, and chief operating officer Jamie Obank has been approached to lead the governing body until his successor recruited.
Next month sees the publication of an independent review, originally expected last October, ordered by UK Sport into the culture at British Cycling following the allegations of bullying and discrimination levelled last year at former Great Britain Cycling Team technical director Shane Sutton and others.
UK Sport confirmed earlier this week that it had already received a copy of the review, as has British Cycling. Inevitably the announcement of Drake's departure on a Friday afternoon will lead to speculaton over whether it is linked to the outcome of the investigation.
Having already suffered a cut in its funding for the Tokyo Olympic cycle despite a dominant performance in the velodrome for the third Games in a row at Rio, British Cycling has been warned it may lose its financial backing by UK Sport altogether depending on the outcome of the review.
Last month, British Cycling president Bob Howden and its board member and chair of its ethics committee Dr George Gilbert gave what was widely viewed as a lacklustre performance when they appeared before a House of Commons select committee investigating doping in sport. Drake did not testify before the committee.
Questions put to them included ones related to therapeutic use exemptions and the medical package delivered to Sir Bradley Wiggins at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphiné.
UK Anti-doping is investigating both British Cycling and Team Sky in connection with those issues to assess whether there has been any "wrongdoing," and officials form the agency have visited the National Cycling Centre in Manchester on at least two occasions in connection with that probe.
In a statement released this lunchtime, British Cycling confirmed that Drake "has completed the handover phase following the announcement in October that he would be leaving the organisation.
"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. Ian has also stepped down as a member of the Sport England board."
Howden added: “I would like to take this opportunity to recognise Ian’s tremendous work for British Cycling as chief executive over the last eight years. On behalf of the board I wish Ian every happiness in the future. Recruitment for a new chief executive is progressing well and I expect to be in a position to make a further announcement in the coming weeks.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.