By Susan Westemeyer
T-Mobile will continue its sponsorship of its ProTour cycling team, it announced today at a press conference in Saarbrücken, Germany, before the start tomorrow of the Deutschland Tour. "We want to prove a point through consistency and reliability which this sport is in great need of," said Hamid Akhavan, Chairman of the Board of T-Mobile International and a board member of the mother company, Deutsche Telekom. "We want to accompany cycling and support it in its effort to become a cleaner sport."
Christian Frommert, director of sponsoring-communication for Deutsche Telekom, presented a three-pronged agreement reached between the team and the sponsor. In the first point, "For the first time in the history of the sport, the athletes and team management will make a personal financial contribution to tackle doping. Cyclists and management in the T-Mobile Team will contribute a certain percentage of their salary. T-Mobile International will then top up this total to one million euro and make it available for the fight against doping."
In addition, the team "will directly support expanded testing and better test methods, as has been done with both DNA and blood volume testing in 2007," and thirdly, the sponsor Deutsche Telekom AG "reserves the right to immediately terminate the commitment in the event of further doping cases."
Frommert emphasized that the company continues to trust general manager Bob Stapleton, who took over the team last fall. "Otherwise the endeavours of the recent past would have been pointless."
Noting that "the challenges have been even bigger than I ever possibly imagined," Stapleton said, that "we are pleased that T-Mobile is remaining as our committed partner. We share the same goals and we are all redoubling our efforts." He noted that all team members will now be "putting our money where our mouth is, by helping to pay for the antidoping fight."
T-Mobile's sponsorship contract runs through 2010.