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Bleak day for German cycling
German Tour axed as broadcasters announce no live Tour de France.
Last Modified: 17 Oct 2008 11:17 GMT

Tour doping offenders: from left and top Bernhard Kohl, Stefan Schumacher, Leonard Piepoli, Ricardo Ricco, Moises Duenas Nevado, and Manuel Beltran [AFP]

Tour of Germany organisers have announced they are scrapping the race while public broadcasters ARD and ZDF said they would not show live pictures of the Tour de France because of cycling's doping problems.

The decisions follow a string of new Tour doping that further discredited the sport and threaten to turn cycling into a fringe sport in one of Europe's biggest markets.

All this comes a day after Austrian Bernhard Kohl, who finished as best climber and was third overall at this year's Tour de France, admitted using CERA, the new generation of the banned blood-boosting drug EPO.

No interest

Organisers of the 2009 Tour of Germany, a nine-day event usually held in August, said they were dropping the race due to a lack of sponsors.

"We regret having to make this decision," said Kai Rapp, the general manager of the promoters.

"Due to the current developments in professional cycling we are no longer in a position to successfully finance and market the event."

Doping scandals

The decision came shortly after the ARD radio and television network and the ZDF network, which are financed in part by monthly fees paid by viewers, both said they would drop live coverage of the Tour de France, the sport's marquee event.

The two networks will continue to carry reports on the Tour in their news and sports programs.

ARD said the doping cases had "greatly reduced" the sporting value of cycling's premier event.

Less value

"Therefore, the scheduling value of the event also has been greatly reduced," ARD Chairman Fritz Raff said after a meeting of the network's regional directors.

Cycling's credibility eroded dramatically in the last two years with doping cases involving German riders and German teams.

Germany's Stefan Schumacher, who like Kohl rode for the Gerolsteiner team, was one of a number of other riders to test positive during the Tour de France.

Unpopular

Sponsors have been deserting the sport, with Gerolsteiner folding at the end of the season after the earlier withdrawal of T-Mobile.

Team Milram remains the only major German-sponsored team.

Source:
Agencies
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