German public television withdrew from live coverage of the Tour de France, but it will show the Deutschland Tour and the Cyclassics one-day race in Hamburg, it was announced Wednesday. ARD said that it would continue to lay a heavy emphasis on the sport's doping problems.
"This was not an easy decision, in light of the events during the Tour de France," said ARD director Fritz Raff to sid. The ground for acceptance was an anti-doping program presented by the Bund Deutscher Radfahrer (the German cycling federation) and the race organizers. If this program is not upheld, then the broadcasts will be immediately ended.
"These measures are absolutely necessary, so that cycling will have a chance in the long run in the fight against doping," Raff said.
The broadcasts will feature less live coverage of th race itself and more background on the doping problems. As part of the new anti-doping program, riders who wil be tested will be chaperoned from the moment they cross the finish line. Winners' prizes will be paid only after negative tests are registered, and each rider must sign a "declaration of honor" before the race starts
"The ARD is not interested in an unfair competition, which is skewed by doping," RAff told the dpa press agency. "We have to be sure that the controls are tight and that the organizer and federation are doing eveything to prevent doping. Only then will we broadcast. That is our clear message to the Deutschland Tour."