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Sinkewitz faces lawsuits

By Susan Westemeyer

As if it's not enough that Patrik Sinkewitz crashed heavily enough after Sunday's Tour de France stage to require surgery and was subsequently suspended by T-Mobile Team following a positive doping test for testosterone, he is now facing the possibility of civil lawsuits. The public prosecutor's office in Bonn, Germany, announced Friday that it had been investigating him for about a month on unrelated charges of defrauding a contract partner.

Joerg Schindler, a spokesman for the investigation, said the prosecutor is acting upon an anonymous complaint filed in June, charging Sinkewitz with "fraud or damages against his contract partners, according to the Associated Press.

Spokesman Ulrich Bremer told Spiegel Online that the complaint and investigation are totally unrelated to the doping charges. "There were other grounds that caused us to open the investigation," he said, without naming those grounds.

T-Mobile was unaware of the investigation until today. "We know about only since midday today," T-Mobile spokesman Christian Frommert told Spiegel Online on Friday.

Meanwhile, Sinkewitz is in the Unfallkrankenhaus Boberg in Hamburg, Germany, recovering from surgery on his crash injuries. T-Mobile Sports Director Rolf Aldag visited him Thursday to ask how his recovery is going and to ask for an explanation for the positive doping test. "The operation went well," Frommert said. "He is physically doing well -- emotionally surely not so well."

The German antidoping agency denied Sinkewitz' claims that the training control was not carried out correctly. T-Mobile team manager Bob Stapleton told the dpa press agency that the riders protested against the tests at the time they were conducted June 8 in the Pyrenees. "The riders had doubts as to the way the tests were conducted and made their comments in writing." In particular, hotel employees "came and went" during the testing procedure. However, Stapleton said that, "I don't believe that it had any effect on the results of the test."

The positive test could have financial consequences for the young German. He had signed the UCI's "Riders' Commitment to a new cycling", which could require him to pay a fine of one-year's salary. But there is more. Gerolsteiner's Hans-Michael Holczer told the dpa that he has asked the AIGCP, the association of ProTour teams, to look into whether it could sue Sinkewitz for damaging the group's image. "That ought to be possible under the rules of the AIGCP."

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