STAPLETON CONFIDENT THAT T-MOBILE WILL STAY WITH TEAM
Despite rumours and comments indicating that T-Mobile might end their sponsorship, team manager Bob Stapleton is convinced the team is doing all the right things and that the German telecoms company will continue the sponsorship of the team in 2008 and beyond.
In the last few days details of Patrick Sinkewitz's confessions that he used EPO and blood transfusions while in the team in 2006 have sent further shock waves through German cycling. According to reports in the German press, senior T-Mobile management are set to hold a meeting, perhaps on Wednesday, to decide if they continue their sponsorship until 2010 or pull the plug now using a special get-out clause. So far T-Mobile have always supported the team after it was cleaned-up by Bob Stapleton, but the string of three doping cases and especially the Sinkewitz case, has created tension and anger at T-Mobile.
According to the German dpa news agency, Stefan Althoff, director of sponsoring for mother company Deutsche Telekom, said the Sinkewitz revelations created "a new set of facts, which we have to deal with" and hinted the team sponsorship could be ended even though the team has undergone major changes since 2006.
"Contracts can always be canceled, the question is only what the terms might be. We can't pretend that things would go on like this. Things have happened and we now realize that we misjudged things in the past. Who would have thought that such things would happen in Freiburg?” he said.
Keeping Rolf Aldag as sports director and the signing of several riders have raised questions in the past and Althoff hinted that some changes might be needed.
Christian Frommert, the director of Sponsoring Communications at T-Mobile, said he was optimistic the company would continue its sponsorship, but admitted they were shocked that so much doping went on in the team.
"We are stunned at the impudence and the unscrupulousness with which the doping continues, but there is more behind it,” he said in an interview with FR-Online.de.
"We are trying to find answers to the same questions as everyone else: Who? How? When? Because we can and will only make our decision on the basis of facts, we won't rush into action. We must gather clear facts in order to make a clear decision. We must now deal with this situation responsibly.”
Clearly under pressure, especially from the German media, Bob Stapleton issued a statement insisting they would continue to run a clean team. He also called on the UCI to study the blood values and other information they have on Sinkewitz before he was part of the 2007 T-mobile team.
“The interview and confessions of Patrik Sinkewitz in recent news articles confirm the necessity of the dramatic changes the sponsor and new management have made in the T-Mobile Team, and the further changes needed in the sport,” Stapleton said.
“After we took over the team at the end of 2006 we have put in place new management, new riders, new procedures, new doctors, and a firm anti-doping policy and testing program. We continue to make more progressive changes in anticipation of the 2008 season.”
“We take a fact based approach. We will review the available information when provided and act fairly and responsible within our rights. Yesterday we formally requested that the UCI promptly review the Sinkewitz information regarding doping prior to our operation of the team, that has been provided directly to the UCI by the BDR (German Cycling Federation) or other authorities”.
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