German sportswear manufacturer Adidas said on Thursday it would continue its sponsorship of the T-Mobile cycling outfit after the team announced stringent anti-doping measures last week.
"This decision was made, because we are aware that there is still a long way to go before we can say there is seamless drugs testing and no doping in sport," said Adidas in a statement. "The alternative was to withdraw, but in the current situation that would have been the equivalent of capitulating in the face of the doping problems."
T-Mobile's contract with Adidas, reported to be worth just under one million euros, depends on the cycling team's contract with the German mobile phone provider of the same name.
T-Mobile announced last Thursday it will continue to sponsor the cycling team bearing their name until 2010. As part of tough new measures, T-Mobile's riders and team management will pay part of their salary to tackle doping and the company will top up the amount to one million euros, which will go to the National Anti-Doping Agency.
T-Mobile, or its parent company Deutsche Telekom, has sponsored the cycling team for 16 years, but had considered withdrawing after rider Patrik Sinkewitz was found to have abnormal levels of testosterone in his blood during this year's Tour de France.
Cycling's image was badly tarnished this summer after a number of high-profile stars, including Astana's Alexander Vinokourov, failed drugs tests during this year's Tour. And in May, former Deutsche Telekom riders including sprinter Erik Zabel, Rolf Aldag and 1996 Tour winner Bjarne Riis admitted using performance-enhancing drugs.
But while Adidas and T-Mobile have both given the green light to their continued involvement, they have one condition: they will both terminate their contracts without notice if any other T-Mobile rider is found guilty of doping.
© AFP 2007