Bradley Wiggins has joined a new management agency as he begins his post-racing career and takes part in the celebrity television show The Jump on British television. The programme features a number of celebrities and former athletes competing in a range of winter sports including skeleton, bobsleigh, and giant slalom.
Wiggins is leaving XIX Management owned by Simon Fuller to join the M&C Saatchi Merlin agency that has worked with British sports stars such as cricketer Freddie Flintoff and footballer Jamie Redknapp. Saatchi Merlin also look after the commercial interests of Olympic champions Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah. According to the Daily Mail, XIX Management now only has David Beckham on its books after the departure of Lewis Hamilton and Andy Murray.
The Daily Mail suggests that Wiggins felt that XIX did not do enough to support him during his recent problems.
Little has been seen of Wiggins since he raced for the last time at the Gent Six in early December. He announced his retirement in a Facebook message on December 28. It is believed he is already in training for The Jump.
M&C Saatchi Merlin announced they will handle all commercial, broadcasting and management duties for Wiggins.
"I'm delighted to have joined the M&C Saatchi Merlin roster. Having now retired, the reach in to broadcasting and developing my own brand will be very important," Wiggins said in a statement from his new agency.
"With M&C SaatchiMerlin's global network and their outstanding record of creating broadcast careers; it gives me huge confidence in their ability to deliver for me."
Richard Thompson, the chairman of M&C Saatchi Merlin recently revealed he has one of Wiggins' Tour de France yellow jerseys on his wall. He seems ready for the challenge of rebuiliding Wiggins' image after the TUE revelations.
"We are proud to be working with Bradley in the next phase of his career. Having conquered all before him while in the saddle, we hope to be able to develop Bradley's huge popularity across the UK and Internationally," Thompson said.
"We believe there is great potential and appetite for brands & broadcasters to work with someone of Bradley's appeal and fan base. With the scale of the M&C Saatchi global Network we feel very well positioned to maximise his potential."
Embroiled in controversy
Wiggins’ drawn out farewell has been embroiled in controversy since the 2016 Olympics when computer hackers Fancy Bears released Therapeutic Use Exemptions for numerous athletes, including Wiggins and Team Sky teammate Chris Froome. The UK Anti-Doping Agency has also been investigating a package British Cycling delivered for Wiggins, from the UK to Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman in France on the final day of the 2011 Critérium du Dauphiné.
When questioned by British members of Parliament before the holidays, Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford suggested that the package contained the antioxidant and mucolytic Fluimucil but questions remain about the package after UKAD admitted that it has so far failed to discover any records of the drug.
Speaking to the BBC at the weekend, David Kenworthy, who has been chairman of the anti-doping body since 2009, rued a lack of clarity in the controversy surrounding the 'mystery' medical package couriered from the UK by British Cycling employee and now Team Wiggins manager Simon Cope to the Team Sky doctor at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine in France.
"People could remember a package that was delivered to France, they can remember who asked for it, they can remember the route it took, who delivered it, the times it arrived. The select committee has got expense sheets and travel documents," argued Kenworthy.
"So everybody can remember this from five years ago, but no-one can remember what was in the package. That strikes me as being extraordinary. It is very disappointing."
"There's still no definite answer from anyone who was involved. I still don't know what was in there; I'm no nearer finding out than you are."
The head of the Culture, Media and Sport committee, Damian Collins MP, has suggested that those involved in the initial hearing could be invited back to give fresh evidence, along with new witnesses. That will only happen when UKAD has wrapped up its investigation.
"We're not giving up on this," said Kenworthy, "and we'll dig and delve and find out what was in that package."
Team Sky have continually denied any wrongdoing, while British Cycling has said it will not comment on the situation until the UKAD investigation concludes.