(Reuters) - The children of British cyclist Bradley Wiggins were bullied and had to move schools following Lance Armstrong’s admission last year that he had taken drugs while winning the Tour de France seven times.
The four-times Olympic gold medal winner and 2012 Tour champion said his son and daughter were asked if their father had taken drugs like the American, who has since been stripped of his titles.
“That (Tour win) changed everything,” Wiggins told reporters during a Team Sky pre-season training camp in Majorca.
“I left home pretty much unknown and came home the most famous man in the country for that week.
“It was hard for me and the family. It affected them as well. The Lance Armstrong thing in January... my kids started getting harassed at school,” Wiggins added.
“Is your dad on drugs? He won the Tour. Is he the same as Lance Armstrong?’ My son getting bullied at school. I had to move my kids from that school and move them to another school.
“Horrendous stuff. Horrible. I felt responsible for that and it all added to my unhappiness at the time. But like I say a year on and it feels like a complete contrast. I feel much more comfortable in my own shoes now.”
Wiggins, 33, suffered an injury-plagued 2013 and was unable to defend his Tour title, which was won by Sky team mate Chris Froome.
He said he felt like he was “going through the motions” at times last year, when he also crashed out of the Giro d’Italia and was part of a poor British performance at the world championships, but was now feeling strong and had comes to terms with his role as an ambassador for the sport.
He and Froome also discussed late last year the tension that surrounded their relationship.
“It was the first time we really just sat down in a room and talked, which we hadn’t since the Tour of Oman last year,” he said.
“I think that was a lesson for us all for this year, just spending more time together. Then things don’t get lost... you’re not reading about someone through the newspapers.”
Wiggins’s contract with Sky expires at the end of year and he was yet to make a decision about his future, with the possibility of returning to the track for the 2016 Olympic Games still an option.
Reporting By Josh Reich, editing by Ed Osmond