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Sailing guru in as performance director at British Cycling

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MANCHESTER, England — One of the key figures behind Britain’s recent success in Olympic sailing has been hired as performance director at the country’s cycling federation.

Stephen Park’s appointment by British Cycling was announced on Friday, at a time of upheaval in the country’s most successful Olympic sport.

British Cycling is currently without a technical director after Shane Sutton’s resignation in April this year over allegations of discrimination. The organization has also been defending its integrity in recent weeks amid allegations of wrongdoing, which led to its leaders being questioned at British parliamentary doping hearings on Monday. UK Anti-Doping officials have also visited British Cycling headquarters.

The 48-year-old Park, who isn’t a specialist in cycling, becomes British Cycling’s first performance director since Dave Brailsford’s departure in April 2014 to concentrate solely on Team Sky. His main task will be to continue Britain’s dominance of Olympic cycling, with the country winning six gold medals from 10 track events at the Rio de Janeiro Games.

In his role as British Sailing’s Olympics manager, Park led Britain’s sailors to the top of the Olympic medal table in Rio and helped Britain amass 23 Olympic and Paralympic medals in his 15 years at the helm.

“Clearly cycling poses very different challenges to sailing,” Park said, “but it’s a sport I am very passionate about from a personal perspective.”

World champ Peter Sagan to race in Tour Down Under

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ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) Three-time world road race champion Peter Sagan of Slovakia has confirmed he will compete in the Tour Down Under in January, the opening World Tour event of the season.

Sagan won the world title last month for the third straight year, becoming the first cyclist to do so. He competed in the Tour Down Under for the first time last year, finishing second on three stages behind Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan.

Sagan, who rides for the BORA-hansgrohe team, said the six-stage Tour Down Under is “the perfect start to the UCI World Tour season each year … a challenging and tough course, warm weather and the passionate fans that cheer for us day in day out no matter what.”

Former Olympic cycling champ fired after positive drug test

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SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) Former Olympic road cycling champion Samuel Sanchez, who returned a positive doping test in August, had his B-sample confirmed Wednesday and was promptly fired by the BMC Racing Team.

Sanchez’s out-of-competition test revealed growth hormone-releasing peptide 2, or GHRP-2, a drug that increases a body’s level of growth hormone. Several cyclists have tested positive for the drug, among them Italian rider Stefano Pirazzi, who was given a four-year ban earlier this week.

The U.S.-based BMC Team said in a statement Wednesday that it was adhering to its zero-tolerance policy toward doping by terminating the Spaniard’s contract “with immediate effect.”

The 39-year-old Sanchez, who had been provisionally suspended, won gold at the 2008 Beijing Games.