Television coverage and races affected by T-Mobile's pullout

Deutsche Telekom has cancelled its sponsorship of not only the T-Mobile Team, but also from other...

Deutsche Telekom has cancelled its sponsorship of not only the T-Mobile Team, but also from other events, such as the Deutschland Tour and the Österreich Rundfahrt (Tour of Austria). However, both races have said that they will continue on, even with the loss of their main sponsor. In addition, the first German broadcaster ARD has said that it will carry the Tour de France and Deutschland Tour in 2008.

The ARD said that it saw no reason to cut back on its Tour coverage. "The existence of doping can't be the only thing on which we base our broadcast decisions," said ARD chairman Fritz Raff, who added that the broadcaster had a "duty as chronicler" to fulfil. He further noted that the Tour was an "outstanding event", and that the ARD had a contract to carry it.

The other German public broadcaster, ZDF, however, was not prepared to commit itself at this time. "We want more controls from the World Anti-Doping Agency WADA," chief editor Nikolaus Brender told dpa. "We want everything laid out clearly before the start of the Tour 2008. Then we will decide whether and how we will broadcast."

Both ARD and ZDF stopped their coverage of the Tour de France this summer after T-Mobile's Patrik Sinkewitz returned a positive doping control for testosterone.

Raff also said that the ARD would broadcast the Deutschland Tour again in 2008, "if it actually takes place." The Deutschland Tour organisers assured that the race would take place and greeted the ARD's news with thanks. "We see this decision as a reward for cycling's serious efforts to start the necessary cleaning process," said the race organisers. "But we also see the decision as an expression of personal trust in our efforts to consequently carry out the fight against doping.

"The departure of Deutsche Telekom AG as sponsor for the T-Mobile Team is too bad, but it does not threaten the existence of the Deutschland Tour," they continued. "We must now discuss with our partner T-Mobile how this will affect their contractual relationship with the Deutschland Tour."

With the pullout of Telekom, the Österreich Rundfahrt has lost one of its main backers, but organiser Ursula Riha said, "I am convinced that we will find a new sponsor." The 60th edition of the race "is not in any danger at this time! This withdrawal goes beyond the team and affects organisations like the Österreich Rundfahrt and the Deutschland Tour. But the worst thing to do would be to just give up."

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