Voigt blasts German TV over doping blackout

19th July 2007, Comments 0 comments

MONTPELLIER, France, July 19, 2007 (AFP) - Germany's Jens Voigt was among the riders who blasted a decision by two major television channels to stop live coverage of the Tour de France because of news of a positive doping test.

MONTPELLIER, France, July 19, 2007 (AFP) - Germany's Jens Voigt was among the riders who blasted a decision by two major television channels to stop live coverage of the Tour de France because of news of a positive doping test.

ARD and ZDF, two of Germany's leading channels, stopped their live broadcast of the 10th stage from Tallard to Marseille after hearing that T-Mobile rider Patrik Sinkewitz had tested positive for testosterone.

According to the German cycling federation (BDR), Sinkewitz, who is home recovering after colliding with a spectator on Sunday's stage, had abnormal levels of the male sex hormone testosterone from a test taken on June 8.

In a joint statement ARD and ZDF said they would not be resuming their coverage of the Tour "until clarification of the Patrik Sinkewitz case".

"It's a warning to cycling and to every other sport," explained ZDF chief producer Nikolaus Brender.

Their decision bemused the Tour de France organisers, who along with cycling's authorities have been trying to weed out the cheats for years.

"Cheats are being found, and German TV is playing the 'empty chair' policy. If we don't look for banned substances, we won't find them," said Patrice Clerc, president of the race's parent company ASO (Amaury Sports Organisation).

"A lot of sports don't look for anything. We've decided to take another attitude, we're fighting against doping - and we're being sanctioned because cheats are being found!"

Voigt, one of the peloton's elder statesman, said the television channels were acting like dictators from his former home in the east of the country.

"It's not democratic, it's just like the old East Germany," said Voigt, who rides for the CSC team of yellow jersey contender Carlos Sastre.

"If the 'B' sample (of Sinkewitz) confirms the result then it proves that the fight against doping is working.

"I'm not turning my back on the problem, I am German too and I'm just doing my job.

"But there are only a few people in control of making that decision, and it's not right. Let people watch the Tour. If they don't want to they can turn off their televisions, or change the channel."

The 26-year-old Sinkewitz was snared by a BDR test, which looks for other substances that can be used to enhance performance.

T-Mobile manager Bob Stapleton, who helped introduce an internal zero tolerance doping policy within is team, will sack Sinkewitz if the B sample is positive.

Prior to the 11th stage there were many raised voices against the decision which some even suggested had been taken because of already falling ratings for cycling in Germany.

Cofidis team manager Eric Boyer said: "I don't agree with it, and I don't think people should be jumping ship when we're all trying hard to keep it afloat."

Saunier Duval's David Millar, who returned to the Tour de France last year after a two-year ban for doping, said he was angry with the young German.

"I'm very angry with Sinkewitz. He doesn't know the extent of what he's doing, he's putting jobs at T-Mobile at risk," said the Scot, who insists that cycling is cleaning up its act.

"The times (when you could dope) are in the past. Things are changing."


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news, German news

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