Mr Porter – famed for his excitable delivery – stood down last month after a 30-year commentating career covering track and road cycling.

The corporation insisted that the presenter, who led the BBC TV’s coverage throughout the London Olympics, had “moved on to pastures new”.

But in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mr Porter said he had been left “devastated” by the decision, suggesting he had been pushed out because of his age.

“I haven’t stepped down and I haven’t gone to pastures new,” he said. “It was their decision. I’m 73 years of age [and] I hoped I would probably go to Rio.”

He added: “I love the sport. I’m not an old wreck or anything like that, my voice is still as strong as ever. If I in any way thought to myself I’m too old for this now, I would be the first to put my hand up.”

The comments threatened to drag the BBC into fresh controversy over its treatment of older presenters.

Former Countryfile presenter Miriam O'Reilly won an age discrimination case against the BBC in 2011 after she was dropped from the rural affairs show when it moved to a primetime Sunday evening slot.

Last year, Anna Ford, the former newsreader, accused the corporation of “tokenism” for attempting to place a number of older women on screen without giving them access to full-time contracts.

Mr Porter, from Wolverhampton, has been the BBC’s main cycling commentator since the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984.

He become synonymous with the rush of gold medals at last summer’s London Games, commentating on all major races featuring the likes of Sir Chris Hoy, Sir Bradley Wiggins, Victoria Pendleton and Laura Trott.

A former professional cyclist, he was famed for his passionate style, dubbing Sir Chris the “real McHoy” and screaming in delight as the Scot “ignited the burners” on the home straight.

But prior to the recent Track Cycling World Championships in Minsk, Belarus, viewers were told that Mr Porter had left for “pastures new”, suggesting he had resigned. He will continue to commentate on skating at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Mr Porter has been replaced by 43-year-old Simon Brotherton, who has covered football, boxing and athletics, as well as cycling for BBC Radio Five Live.

Speaking to the Telegraph, he said he had hoped to remain the principal television cycling commentator until the 2016 Olympics in Rio and beyond, when he would be 77.

But he said he was “totally deflated” by the decision to replace him, just as the sport rises in popularity.

“They’ve emphasised that I’ve stepped down,” he said. “I haven’t stepped down. This is the thing that’s really annoyed me. It’s been made out 'well done Hugh, he’s been a faithful servant, and now he's retired', but it’s been their decision, not mine.”

He added: “In all the years that I’ve worked enthusiastically, probably 90 per cent of the work I’ve done has never made the air.

“Now because they’ve finally realised how big this sport is, and they are giving it big coverage, 90 per cent of my commentaries were making the air. That’s the irritating part about it.”

A BBC spokesman said: "The decision was taken by BBC Sport. We would not comment further on specific details. It was announced on BBC Two, with a tribute to Hugh, at the start of the BBC's coverage of the World Track Championships.

“'Pastures new' is a commonly used phrase when people move, it was also clearly stated that Hugh would be working for the BBC at Sochi for the Winter Olympics."

Article from Telegraph