T-Mobile denies speculation over sponsor's immediate future

By Susan Westemeyer T-Mobile Team has denied that its sponsor is planning to cancel its contract...

By Susan Westemeyer

T-Mobile Team has denied that its sponsor is planning to cancel its contract with the squad, however reports are rife that the telecommunications company is meeting this week to review its options. It's believed the telecommunications giant could seek an early end to the current agreement, which runs through 2010, following the "new set of facts" about the squad which has surfaced in comments by former rider Patrik Sinkewitz.

"I can in no way confirm the supposition that the sponsor wants out," team spokesman Stefan Wagner told the dpa press agency. "We introduced dramatic changes [at] the end of 2006 and started on a new way, which we will continue to follow."

American Bob Stapleton, who took over the team management in January 2007, has introduced a strict anti-doping program as well as an internal code of conduct. Sergey Honchar was released this summer for violating the code of conduct and both Sinkewitz and Lorenzo Bernucci were fired after testing positive.

Following Sinkewitz' most recent disclosures as to doping during the 2006 Tour de France, it has been rumoured that sponsor T-Mobile would seek an early end to its sponsoring contract which runs through 2010.

According to the dpa, the sponsor will allegedly meet this week to review its options. Stefan Althoff, director of sponsoring for Deutsche Telekom, said that there is "a new set of facts, which we have to deal with". While he emphasized that the company has a valid contract with the team through 2010, he implied that the company could seek to end its involvement and compensate the squad for its early withdrawal. "Contracts can always be cancelled, the question is only what the terms might be," pointed Althoff. "We can't pretend that it could go on like this. Things have happened, that we now realize we misjudged in the past. Who would have thought that such things would happen in Freiburg? Not I."

Althoff also indicated that Rolf Aldag's position as Sport Director must also be reviewed. In May Aldag joined Team Milram's Erik Zabel, a former T-Mobile rider, in confessing to the use of EPO while riding for the squad during the 1990s.

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