Doping scandals force big sponsor to withdraw cash.
|German cycling is facing a sponsorship crisis
Germany’s top cycling team lost another major sponsor when the car maker Audi said it was pulling out of the contract.
Deutsche Telekom, which was the main sponsor behind the T-Mobile team, announced two days ago that it was ending the deal because of a series of doping cases.
“The withdrawal of Deutsche Telekom means we’ve lost the major partner and the basis of our involvement,” Audi spokeswoman Iris Altig said.
“We will not continue our involvement next year.”
The former T-Mobile team will continue to compete under the name Team High Road, named after the company owned by its manager Bob Stapleton.
Stapleton has a ProTour license valid through 2010.
Sporting goods company Adidas also has dropped its sponsorship deal with the team, however bike supplier Giant has confirmed it will stay with the team.
Deutsche Telekom, which has been sponsoring the team since 1991, pulled out after a series of doping revelations.
Former T-Mobile rider Patrik Sinkewitz, who was fired recently after testing positive before the Tour de France, testified that doping was widespread at the team, both before and after Jan Ullrich was its main star.
Ullrich won the Tour de France in 1997.
He retired after being linked to the Spanish doping scandal but has denied any wrongdoing.
Other former Telekom riders have admitted taking performance-enhancing drugs, including 1996 Tour de France champion Bjarne Riis.
Sinkewitz said that doping in the T-Mobile team continued in 2006, later than previously known.