Klöden's uncertain future

Andreas Klöden is facing an uncertain future. He left Team T-Mobile last year to join Team Astana,...

Andreas Klöden is facing an uncertain future. He left Team T-Mobile last year to join Team Astana, with prospects of both himself and Alexander Vinokourov on the Tour de France podium. Now three of his Astana team-mates, including Vinokourov, have been fired or suspended for having doped, the team has taken a one-month long break from racing, has been uninvited from the Vuelta a España, and may face the loss of its ProTour license.

Klöden has said that he must talk with his management about his future, which many have interpreted to mean that he wants to leave Astana, even if the team continues. Where would he go -- back to T-Mobile? The 32 year-old is "an outstanding cyclist," acknowledged Rolf Aldag, T-Mobile sports director.

The German rider has never been involved in any doping scandals or even rumoured scandals, but has said very little about those scandals. According to the German news magazine Spiegel, he has not sufficiently distanced himself from friends who have doped, such as Matthias Kessler, or those who are under suspicion, such as Jan Ullrich. His silence on these matters is seen as a disadvantage. "It is important to take a clear position, said Christian Frommert, T-Mobile Sponsoring Communications director. "Andreas can do that, even during a Tour. But he didn't. That is something that we can't simply ignore."

Aldag did say that a potential return would "involve a lot of things to talk about," but he doubted that it would be easy to integrate Klöden back into the team, or any team. He said that he had problems with Klöden's statement that his manager would deal with his future. "I want to speak first with the rider, over his ideas and his attitude, not with the manager."

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