The end for Discovery Channel?

According to the Los Angeles Times, Johan Bruyneel will announce today that he has been unable to find a new sponsor to replace the departing Discovery Channel and that the team will be disbanded at the end of the season.

The cable TV broadcaster announced in February that it would not renew its sponsorship scheduled to expire at the end of 2007. It has sponsored the team for three years.

The team has been looking for a new sponsor since then, with Bruyneel apparently even looking in China.

Since Bruyneel has started his sponsor search, the team has had its share of doping-related problems. Controversial signing Ivan Basso resigned from the team "for personal reasons", before facing trial in front of the Italian cycling federation and being suspended for 24 months. Young Spanish rider Alberto Contador unexpectedly won the Tour de France for the American team, but he has long been rumoured to also have been involved with Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes.

Contador has scheduled a meeting today with Dr. Jaime Lissavetzky, the Spanish Sports Minister, to be followed by a meeting with the press at which he has said he will read a statement and not take questions. Bruyneel is also expected to attend. It is assumed that Contador will address the doping issue.

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