The International Cycling Union (UCI) is refusing to do any interview with German television networks ARD and ZDF, saying the public broadcasters are overly focused on doping. The two networks share the Tour de France coverage, and have said that they will not carry the race after this year.
ARD sport coordinator Axel Balkausky told the dapd news agency that the UCI would not grant interviews with either network. “That looks to me very much like an attempt to punish us, since we will not carry the Tour de France live any more after this summer,” he said, according to digitalfernsehen.de.
The UCI indicated that it was tired of the German networks' one-sided coverage. “Every year the German networks' agenda is the same: doping, doping and more doping,” UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani said.
Balkausky said that he could not accept this stance, and that it was important to cover “all aspects” of cycling, including doping. The ARD does not seek to damage cycling, but wants to “accompany it constructively but also critically.”
The ARD and ZDF first pulled their coverage of the Tour de France in July 2007, when Patrik Sinkewitz's positive doping control for testosterone was announced during the Tour. Since then they have provided short daily wrap-up coverage during the race, with a heavy emphasis on doping.
This February, ARD and ZDG said that when their current contract with Tour organiser ASO runs out, they would not renew it, citing lack of viewer interest.