Thursday, July 19, 2007

German television and drug-free cycling

After Jan Ullrich, Erik Zabel, Rolf Aldag and Bjarne Riis were implicated in the Puerto scandal last year, the German TV networks ARD and ZDF threatened they would suspend Tour de France coverage if new doping allegations against German cyclists appeared. ARD and ZDF followed through on this threat after the news was released that Patrik Sinkewitz tested positive for testosterone.

According to L'Equipe, the German networks made it clear to German cycling that they would only broadcast cycling events if the sport is clean. "It is a warning to cycling and all the other sports," says ZDF Editor in Chief Nikolaus Brender. "We discussed this in length with the team managers, the German Cycling Federation, and race organizers, telling them that we were ready to support cycling if doping is controlled. However, this news shows that the teams are not even able to control what their cyclists do."

TdF organizer ASO is critical of German TV's decision to suspend broadcast of le Tour. "It is hypocritical to sanction the drug testing by not publishing the results," said ASO president Patrice Clerc.

In the meantime, the private German Sat 1 broadcaster quickly arranged broadcast rights for the Tour de France in the aftermath of the ZDF and ARD boycott. Sat one now has exclusive broadcast rights in Germany.

And after I painstakingly and slowly translated the French reports, I see the same thing in the English language International Herald Tribune. Oh well.

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