Team T-Mobile rider Patrik Sinkewitz reacted with amazement today after he was informed he had failed a doping test, undertaken as he prepared for the Tour de France last month.
The German Cycling Federation (BDR) announced on Wednesday that the 26-year-old's A sample, taken on June 8, had a raised testosterone level and he must now decide if his B sample will be tested. The up and coming rider has been suspended by his team who say that if the B sample confirms the first test then he will be sacked.
Sinkewitz was forced to pull out of the Tour de France after suffering a broken nose and shoulder injury on Sunday after colliding with a spectator when occupying 50th place in the overall standings.
Currently recovering in a Hamburg hospital, Sinkewitz reacted with bewilderment when he was told the news. "Me? Why me? I don't know anything about it. This can't be," was his reaction, reported in German on-line sports magazine Kicker. "I am due to have an operation and I can't think about it now."
Sinkewitz, who won the 2004 Tour of Germany, now has five days to decide whether he wants his B sample to be tested. "If he has the B sample tested and that confirms the positive findings, the BDR will ban Patrik Sinkewitz from all teams," explained BRD in a press release.
T-Mobile manager Bob Stapleton was taking a similarly tough line. Speaking ahead of the tour de France's 10th stage Stapleton said: "Patrik has been suspended and if the B sample confirms the first result his contract will be terminated."
It has been a bad week for Sinkewitz who collided with a spectator on Sunday immediately after the end of the eighth stage in Tignes suffering a broken nose and a head injury.
But the latest development is more bad new for T-Mobile who have seen several former riders confess to taking banned blood-booster erythropoietin (EPO) in the last few months. Seven ex-Telekom cyclists, including 1996 Tour de France winner Bjarne Riis and top sprinter Erik Zabel, admitted they took EPO in the 1990s. Sinkewitz's failed drugs test comes almost exactly one year after T-Mobile sacked 1997 Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich for being linked to a doping scandal in Spain.
Sinkewitz was the last rider who was able to maintain contact with Floyd Landis during stage 17 of last year's Tour de France. It was after this stage that Landis provided a sample which subsequently tested positive for abnormally high levels of testosterone.
ARD and ZDF pull plugs on Tour coverage
German television stations ARD and ZDF reacted to the news of Sankewitz's test by announcing that they are ceasing their coverage of the Tour de France. The stations issued a joint statement saying they would not be resuming their coverage of the Tour "until clarification of the Patrik Sinkewitz case".
"We can't screen an event involving some teams and riders under suspicion of doping," explained ZDF chief producer Nikolaus Brender.
"We want to show by this gesture that we're ready to support cycling only if it's clean, that's to say without banned doping sustances.
"It's a warning to cycling and to every other sport," he added in an interview on ZDF's midday news.
Also see Dan Friebe's blog: Don't blame T-Mobile for Sinkewitz's positive test