Gerolsteiner stops; Bernucci out; Popo to Predictor

German team finishing at the end of 2008, Lorenzo Bernucci sacked after positive, and Yaroslav Popovych finds a new home.

Gerolsteiner stops after 2008

Gerolsteiner team boss Hans-Michael Holczer admitted on Tuesday he was left in tears after the German mineral water company announced they would not extend their sponsorship.

Gerolsteiner will not sponsor the team past the end of the 2008 season and riders such as German Stefan Schumacher and Italian Davide Rebellin will be left without a team.

The German mineral water supplier has sponsored the ProTour team since 1998, but with several high-profile doping scandals involving riders from other teams tarnishing the sport's image, the German company decided to call it a day.

"There were tears in my eyes," said Holczer on hearing the news after the team's nine years of sponsorship and an annual funding of nine million euros.

The news is a big blow for the cycling team and will leave a big gap in German cycling, although the German Cycling Federation (BDR) said they would help the team to find a new sponsor.

"It is not an entirely unexpected decision. After such a long collaboration, you notice changes in your partner," said Holczer, who will begin the hunt for a new sponsor. We have one of the best teams on the market with a national and international reputation. They did not give a reason to step out of the cycling, I assume it was a totally economic decision."

Bernucci sacked

T-Mobile have just announced another positive from within their team. Lorenzo Bernucci, 27, tested positive for the banned appetite suppressant Sibutramine on August 15 during the Tour of Germany. He has been fired by the team.

"We do not know if this was an attempt at performance enhancement or just poor judgement," said team general manager Bob Stapleton. "But we know it is unacceptable that riders take any medication without the approval of the team doctor. It's a clear violation of our code of conduct and we have acted on that basis."

Following the sacking of T-Mobile rider Patrik Sinkewitz during the Tour de France, when abnormally high levels of testosterone were found in his blood, this is another blow for the German team.

T-Mobile announced on August 9 they would continue their sponsorship until 2010, but stated any further doping violations by the team's riders could damage the agreement.

Bernucci, who lives in Monaco, was withdrawn from the Tour of Spain after Monday's third stage and it is up to the Monaco Cycling Federation to investigate who will be responsible for further investigating the incident and for determining additional sanctions.

After learning of his positive test, Bernucci told the team management he had taken the drug, purchased over the counter at a chemist's in Italy, in order to suppress his appetite.

He reportedly used the product for four years and did not understand the product was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) list of prohibited substances last year.

According to International Cycling Union (UCI) rules a first violation for using Sibutramine, if proven to not have been used to enhance sporting performance, can result in a warning or the maximum penalty of a one-year suspension.

Popovych to Predictor-Lotto

Discovery Channel's Ukrainian powerhouse Yaroslav Popovych has found a new home in Predictor-Lotto, the Belgian team confirmed today. Popovych finished eighth in this year's Tour de France while riding in support of his teammates Alberto Contador (1st) and Levi Leipheimer (3rd).

"It goes without saying that Yaroslav Popovych will be a very important member of our team and that Predictor-Lotto is very satisfied with his arrival."

© AFP & BikeRadar 2007

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