German cycling in turmoil after doping test

19th July 2007, Comments 0 comments

MARSEILLE, France, July 18, 2007 (AFP) - German cycling giants T-Mobile returned to earth with a bang on the 10th stage of the Tour de France Wednesday with the unwelcome news of a positive doping control within their ranks.

MARSEILLE, France, July 18, 2007 (AFP) - German cycling giants T-Mobile returned to earth with a bang on the 10th stage of the Tour de France Wednesday with the unwelcome news of a positive doping control within their ranks.

T-Mobile said they welcomed the news of Patrik Sinkewitz's positive test for testosterone, announced by the German Cycling Federation (BDR) on Wednesday, however German TV bosses are up in arms.

And not just about cycling.

According to the BDR, Sinkewitz, now at 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.

Two leading German television channels, who had threatened to boycott this year's race because of doping scandals, immediately downed tools and stopped broadcasting the 10th stage from Tallard to Marseille.

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.

Patrice Clerc, the president of the Tour's parent company ASO (Amaury Sports Organisation) failed to comprehend the decision, especially in the light of cycling's proactive stance in the fight against drugs cheats.

"It's a paradox. The Tour de France is being sanctioned, but should we sanction an event that is actually doing its best to weed out drugs cheats?" said Clerc.

"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.

"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!"

After the 'Operation Puerto' scandal which implicated their former star Jan Ullrich last year, T-Mobile began this season declaring war on doping, introducing an internal anti-doping policy based on detecting blood doping and the use of substances which boost the blood.

However recently their past caught up with them. Seven ex-Telekom cyclists, including 1996 Tour de France winner Bjarne Riis and top sprinter Erik Zabel, admitted they took EPO in the 1990s.

The 26-year-old Sinkewitz was snared by a BDR test, which looks for other substances that can be used to enhance performance.
 
For T-Mobile manager Bob Stapleton, and his newest star rider Linus Gerdemann - who is openly anti-doping - the news simply showed that the doping controls are doing their job.

He explained: "Our internal controls concentrate on blood doping and EPO use (erythropoietin), and are complementary to the test already being carried out by the national and international (cycling) federations, as well WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency).

"Our stance is that we encourage targetted testing, out of competition testing. It's consistent with our view that if you don't do the right thing you get caught and suffer the consequences," added Stapleton.

Gerdemann, the 24-year-old all-rounder who single-handedly injected life into the German television networks' flailing faith in the sport with a superb first stage win in the Alps on Saturday, could only agree.

"I still don't know if it's true, there hasn't been another analysis yet," he said after the 10th stage.

"But if it is, it shows that the controls are starting to work, and that the possibilities to dope are getting smaller and smaller.

"For sure it's not good for our team, but I also believe it's not possible for us to possible to dope in our team. It shows that if someone is doping, he's going to get caught."


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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