TV broadcasters to contribute to anti-doping fight?

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The Secretary General of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), a conglomerate of 75 radio and TV stations throughout Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East, has said that he could imagine the audiovisual media to support the fight against doping in sports, particularly cycling. Speaking at the Sportel trade show in Monaco, an international sports rights market, Jean Réveillon told Radsportnews that he had already made a proposal to this effect to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), but hadn't received any answer.

To combat the current developments in Germany, where the public TV stations are reluctant to continue showing cycling races on TV, and prevent the same situation to spread amongst other broadcasters, Réveillon seemed ready to take on more responsibilities. "We have to educate the young athletes, promote a clean sport and possibly contribute to its financing, even if WADA doesn't seems very interested by this," said the Frenchman, who used to direct the sports sector at France Télévisions. "I had proposed that the EBU contributes to the financing of the WADA, because television brings the money into the sport by way of TV rights. But they haven't got back to me yet. I wanted to speak at the WADA conference in Madrid, but [WADA manager] Howman only responded that I could come as journalist. That wasn't the answer we had hoped for. But we'll continue to be open."

Réveillon also supported the idea of a European Anti-Doping Agency, but deplored the fact that only the TV stations of European countries were taking the doping problem seriously. "We TV stations in Europe are the only ones fighting against doping," he added. "I took part in the general assembly of the World Broadcasting Union, where the subject doping was unheard of. Terrible. The proposal of a European Anti-Doping Agency is interesting. I spoke to the EU commissioners in charge of this and EU [Commission] president Barroso. We at TV hold important keys in our hands: Information, debate and especially money."

Even though the German public TV stations ARD and ZDF, who withdrew their live coverage of the Tour de France this July in the middle of the event, are currently discussing the future of their reporting on the French Grand Tour, the other members of the EBU will continue to broadcast professional cycling races, Réveillon assured. "Germany is a specific case. There is more pressure, and we hear things like: 'cycling is like professional wrestling, it doesn't have its place on TV.' But all other members of the EBU hold their simple position: yes, cycling is in danger, and yes, it is necessary that the sport finds unity again, but we continue to broadcast it. All of our members agree to cover the Tour de France," he said.

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