German officials welcome Tour boycott

19th July 2007, Comments 0 comments

19 July 2007, Hamburg (dpa) - German politicians and sports officials on Thursday welcomed the decision of state networks ARD and ZDF to drop their Tour de France broadcasts after the latest positive doping test involving T-Mobile rider Patrik Sinkewitz.

19 July 2007

Hamburg (dpa) - German politicians and sports officials on Thursday welcomed the decision of state networks ARD and ZDF to drop their Tour de France broadcasts after the latest positive doping test involving T-Mobile rider Patrik Sinkewitz.

Peter Danckert, head of the German parliamentary sports commission, even called for a lengthy TV absence in cycling to force the sport into fully cleaning up the drugs problem.

"One should terminate cycling broadcasts as long as there is no change of mentality among the riders," Danckert told Thursday's edition of the Berliner Morgenpost daily.

"Maybe you have to deny them the basis (of the sport), presence in the media and sponsoring."

Former German cycling supremo Sylvia Schenk struck a similar line, saying in a radio interview that "doping costs a lot of money and its the sponsors and television who provide the money."

The unprecedented move by the two networks and Sinkwitz's positive test for the steroid testosterone was front-page news around the country and also widely reported abroad.

"Tour shock," screamed the Bild daily, while the Sueddeutsche Zeitung broadsheet splashed the headline "Doping ruins German cycling" across its front page.

The SZ, in an editorial, named the decision "schizophrenic and at the same time logical."

The daily said that the decision could be dangerous for other sports as well because "without television, sponsors will leave as well," but that ARD and ZDF will also be measured by this step when it comes to broadcasts from for events, for instance the Olympic Games.

"Will the TV screens remain black if a drug cheat is caught at the Olympics? Can the media report from China with a clean conscience?" the SZ asked.

The issue was also debated outside Germany, with widely differing opinions.

"There is no better and efficient move than this one to hit the rolling 'pharmacy.' If other broadcasters follow the sponsors would quit. They withhold the money from cycling which was always the main reason for forbidden action," said Switzerland's Basler Zeitung.

The Neue Zuercher Zeitung said that "only television has the power to pressure the hypocritical cycling scene into a self-cleaning process."

But the Tagesanzeiger used the word "hypocritical" to describe ARD and ZDF, saying that ARD were for many years a sponsor of the T- Mobile team and also had a deal with disgraced former star Jan Ullrich.

Dutch daily De Telegraph asked whether the media "shouldn't rather report than take sides," an aspect also raised by German viewers in the ARD website forum.

One user named the ARD and ZDF decision "censorship," saying that that the state networks by definition had to report without bias, and that it was up to viewers - and not the networks - to decide what to watch or not.

Tour organizers and riders were critical of the move, with Tour boss Patrice Clerc naming it "paradoxical" because "it punishes an event that is doing the maximum to fight doping."

Rider Jens Voigt said "the decision helps no one" and also insisted that Sinkewitz's positive test came before the Tour and not during the race he was forced to abandon on Monday after colliding with a spectator.

But the SZ, in another editorial, insisted that cycling had dug its own grave for years with countless doping offences and now deserved its place (at least in Germany) at a smaller network (Eurosport).

"The peloton has arrived where it belongs, in a programme along with mud wrestling and monster trucks," the SZ said.


DPA

Subject: German news

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