Knebel confirms interest in sponsoring the Rabobank team

Manager calls for international teams to agree on how to treat former dopers

Several companies are interested in taking over sponsorship of the Rabobank team, but team director Harold Knebel has revealed that the the companies want to ensure that the team will deliver “clean” cycling.  “They want a kind of 'clean earth' warranty,” Knebel told the Dutch Federation at its autumn meeting Tuesday in Utrecht.

Knebel said he has received numerous enquiries from potential sponsors for the team after Rabobank announced they were ending their long-term backing. However he called on clear rules on how major professional teams operate.

"It is important that we have an international legal structure, created in consultation with the international professional teams, “ Knebel said according the ANP news agency.

By that, he meant that the major international teams should all agree on how to treat former dopers.

“You see that a team like Sky treats them differently than for example Garmin. It would be good to all agree on a process. If that is not internationally possible, we will work with the Dutch pro teams, the National Federation or the NSF (the Dutch Olympic committee) to find a national method to recover cycling's credibility.”

Rabobank announced on October 19 that it would end its title sponsorship of the team as of the end of the year, although it would fulfil its financial obligations beyond that time. The team said that it would continue as a “white label” team until a new title sponsor is found.

Rabobank is currently being sued by Michael Rasmussen for 5.8 million Euros for his dismissal during the 2007 Tour de France. The bank said that doping in the sport was its reason for ending its 17-year sponsorship.

"We were shocked at the many details of the USADA report. For us, this has made the glass more than full. Enough is enough. And we are not confident that cycling will improve in the medium term," Rabobank financial director Bert Bruggink said at the time.

In an affidavit published alongside the USADA reasoned decision, Levi Leipheimer confessed to doping during his time with the Dutch team. The UCI has also recently asked that proceedings be opened against Spain's Carlos Barredo because of questionable values shown under the biological passport programme while riding for Rabobank.

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