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Sinkewitz positive - German public channels stop Tour coverage immediately

Patrik Sinkewitz of T-Mobile has tested positive for testosterone, it was announced earlier today. The test was conducted on June 8 during a team training camp in Pau. The reported value was 24:1, with the allowed limit being 4:1. A normal value is considered to be 1:1.

The German public channels initially said they would not boycott cycling, but said during the Tour they would stop broadcasting if more doping are cases surfacing. They came through with their promise after the most recent doping case and have decided to not broadcast today's tenth stage on neither ARD nor ZDF.

Today it would have been the turn of ARD in their alternating schedule, but instead of the stage, there was a special edition sports report that featured interviews and background on doping.

It featured an interview with Christian Frommert, who is the sports communication director of T-Mobile. Frommert said "We are disappointed and shocked. We will now have to collect all the facts and evaluate and see what we do. But it is not fair to go after the other six team members because of the behaviour of one individual. More facts will trickle in. The news is only 2.5 hours old.

"We will have to wait for the B sample, though I believe it will have the same outcome."

On the fact that Sinkewitz signed the UCI statement, Frommert said that "we are not naive. We know that some signed the statement and won't change their behaviour." He also indicated that T-Mobile will continue the question things and investigate.

What Frommert found really disappointing was the fact that it happened during a team training camp, after they have clear instructions by the team management about the consequences. "But we can't follow the riders everywhere. There is no difference if they are at home or in their rooms in a training camp. We don't know what the riders do, then. We are trying to make the net as tight as possible."

Frommert said the team was really looking to riders like Sinkewitz in their quest to fight doping, so it was "very disappointing. But we can't steer each individual completely."

The man responsible for the cyclists, American Bob Stapleton declared that "it is sad but that is what we are standing for. It shows that the controls are working." Stapleton acknowledged that he was disappointed, as they are trying to do everything. But he denied ever saying that a doping case could not happen at T-Mobile, elaborating that "I only said that we do the utmost possible so it doesn't happen."

What teams like T-Mobile and CSC are doing is that they monitor their rider's blood values to screen for suspicious behaviour. They spent quite a bit of money on this screening and the riders are generally OK with it. Stapleton didn't think the teams should do actual doping tests, declaring "this should be up to independent entities like NADA [the German anti doping agency]. If the teams do it then people will say that we steer the riders or alter the tests."

Peter Kaadtmann said that the public channels have talked to UCI and the German Cycling Federation (BDR) and made it clear they want clean riders. "Our contract stated that we broadcast the Tour as a competiton of clean riders, not of people using doping substances."

The cycling community on the online forums is split about the subject, with some supporting the decision and others pointing out that other sports like soccer, boxing, wrestling or tennis are not affected. In fact, ZDF's sports moderator, Kristin Otto, has been linked to doping, though she has always maintained that she never knowingly took anything. In the GDR, former East Germany, it was always a possibility that sports people did not know what they were given.

More about this controversy in the regular news coverage.

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