Adidas, Audi consider ending sponsorship over doping


Hamburg : German companies adidas and Audi are considering ending their sponsorship arrangements with the German T-Mobile team in the wake of the latest doping scandal to hit cycling, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reported Friday.

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"We are seriously considering pulling out of our sponsorship activities," Jan Runau, communications director of adidas, told the paper.

The threat comes after German state networks ARD and ZDF, in an unprecedented move, pulled the plug on Tour de France live broadcasts Wednesday in the wake of the latest positive doping test involving German T-Mobile rider Patrik Sinkewitz.

The Sueddeutsche reported that while Audi are considering pulling back on their support of cycling, adidas are looking for a complete break.

Such a move would have a serious effect on the German cycling federation BDR, which is sponsored and supplied by adidas in national, European and World Championships.

The French national federation and its cyclists are also supplied by adidas but it seems the second-largest sports equipment manufacturer in the world has given up hope on the rejuvenation of cycling as a clean sport.

Runau told the Sueddeutsche that the Sinkewitz case once again raised the question as to whether "a new start in the sport of cycling is possible".

It appears the decision by adidas to pull out of its sponsorship deal with T-Mobile has already been made and the company is just waiting for the confirmation from Sinkewitz's B-sample – due Tuesday – to announce the move officially.

The sponsorship deal with Telekom is believed to be worth somewhere in the region of 500,000 euros ($690,000) but adidas want to ensure that the move doesn't effect its other partnerships with Telekom, including the sponsorship of Bundesliga club Bayern Munich and the German football team.

Runau confirmed that that adidas and Telekom had been in talks before "the latest doping incident involving Patrik Sinkewitz".

The sports equipment manufacturer has been involved with T-Mobile since 1997 but terminated Jan Ullrich's contract when the 1997 Tour de France winner was sacked by T-Mobile a year ago, after he was linked to a doping scandal in Spain.

Audi said it will "critically evaluate" its involvement with the T-Mobile team at this year's Tour de France.

The German carmaker is providing around two-dozen vehicles without cost to T-Mobile.

An Audi spokeswoman said that this arrangement would be discussed in autumn in the wake of the latest doping incident and refused to rule out a full withdrawal from the deal.