German broadcasters ARD could be forced to broadcast next year's Tour de France, after the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said it had no basis to not honour its agreement with Tour owner Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO). Both networks had announced their intentions to not broadcast next year's Tour, in response to the sport's ongoing doping problems.
EBU president Fritz Pleitgen told AFP the network's attempt to boycott the Tour was "against the rules" of the EBU and its contract with ASO. "ARD, in conjunction with ZDF, signed a contract last January that covers the period from 2009-2011 for a total of six million euros a year," he said.
The network's only exit clause in the contract would be if ASO wasn't employing "the most modern anti-doing controls" currently available, according to Pleitgen. "If these conditions are not respected by the organisers, the television channels can end their contract once it becomes valid on January 1, 2009," Pleitgen said.
Another step up in the fight against doping saw ASO catch several riders at this year's Tour, including Riccardo Ricco, Leonardo Piepoli, Stefan Schumacher and Bernhard Kohl. These riders tested positive despite using the latest generation of EPO called Continuous Erythropoietin Receptor Activator (CERA).
The latest generation of EPO from Roche Pharmaceuticals was largely unknown and believed to be undetectable, however procedures had already been put in place to help detect that drug's presences in an athlete's sample.