Germany’s top cycling team, T Mobile, has driven into the ditch as major sponsors abandon the former cycling power in the wake of doping scandals.
T Mobile became the victim of a corporate backlash when two of its biggest backers, automobile manufacturer Audi and sports equipment giant adidas, both dropped their contracts Thursday.
“The withdrawal of Deutsche Telekom means we’ve lost the major partner and the basis of our involvement,” Audi spokeswoman Iris Altig said in a statement. telecommunications entrepreneur Bob Stapleton.
Stapleton sold his VoiceStream Wireless company to Deutsche Telekom in 2000. He said this week he had assembled a group of private investors to ensure continued operation of the team under the High Road banner.wholesale nfl jerseys Bike supplier Giant plans to stay with the team, company officials say.
Stapleton has a ProTour licence valid through 2010.
“For the moment there is no title sponsor but they have enough money to continue for two more years. The team roster, the goals, the race calendar will all remain the same, although we may do less racing in Germany. Basically, it’s the same team, only the jerseys will change,” Toronto native and cyclist Michael Barry said in an e mail.
Barry has been a rider with T Mobile since coming over from the former Discovery Channel team, another one that foundered with sponsor desertion.
Barry told the VeloNews website that he and his teammates had been prepared for the possibility of Deutsche Telekom’s pullout since May, when time trial specialist Sergei Honchar was suspended, then fired, for violating the team’s internal doping policies.
“When Honchar was suspended, the situation seemed precarious,” said Barry, who is based in Spain with his family. “During the Tour most of us were prepared for the worst when Patrick [Sinkewitz]tested positive.”
During this summer’s Tour de France, the team learned that the German had tested positive for testosterone before the Tour de France.http://www.cheapnflsalejerseys.com Other former Telekom riders have admitted taking performance enhancing drugs, including 1996 Tour de France champion Bjarne Riis.
Barry said the Sinkewitz case marked a point of no return for Deutsche Telekom.
“It is sad that T Mobile no longer wanted to continue in cycling especially as they are leaving a team that is trying to make a change but at the same time, it is very encouraging that, despite this, Bob and the management remain committed to the sport, cleaning it up, and its future,” Barry’s e mail said.
He hopes that remaining backers stick by the professional tour and its teams, “until the sport is again respected by the public.”
“I don’t think there is any worry of cycling being ousted from the Olympics as it is a sport that is really trying to make a difference, still has a huge worldwide following and remains an attractive, beautiful sport.
“Sadly, the problems that are constantly highlighted in the media overshadow the changes that have taken place in the last year. Cycling is in a period of transition but I believe the sport will come out on top. Cycling is not the only sport with doping problems but it is the one sport that is fighting them head on and is setting a benchmark for other sports.”