German races endangered

Stefan Schumacher's positive doping tests from the Tour de France have delivered another blow to...

Stefan Schumacher's positive doping tests from the Tour de France have delivered another blow to German cycling and the future of racing in the country.

German race organisers have been battered over the last few years with scandals ranging from Jan Ullrich and Operación Puerto to the Freiburg University Clinic to Patrik Sinkewitz. The Friedensfahrt, the Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfahrt, Rund um die Hainleite, the Niedersachsen Rundfahrt and the Hessen Rundfahrt have all fallen victim to the sport's controversies.

Other races – major events – have been able to hang on by their fingertips, but now their existence is threatened, too. "The Schumacher case might be the drop that causes things to overflow," German cycling federation president Rudolf Scharping told the dpa press agency.

Especially endangered are the Regio-Tour through southern Germany and Rund um den Henninger Turm in Frankfurt. Regio-Tour organiser Rudi Renz said that Schumacher's positive tests "are the icing on the cake of the whole doping story. It couldn't have hit us harder. We might just totally disappear form the scene."

The Henninger Turm had already lost its main sponsor, the Henninger Brewery. Organiser Bernd Moos-Aschenbach said that the news hit him "especially hard", because he is in "very promising talks with a sponsor."

Even the Deutschland Tour is threatened. If the public German television broadcasters ARD and ZDF cancel their plans to carry the Tour de France, they will probably also cancel broadcast of the D-Tour.

Two German races have good news. The Hamburg Cyclassics will definitely be held in 2009, and Rund um Köln is "not in acute danger", according to organiser Artur Tabat, who is nevertheless still searching for a new sponsor. "The doping stories have pulled the rug out from under our feet," Tabat said.

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