German mobile company T-mobile announced on Thursday they will continue to sponsor the cycling team bearing their name until 2010, despite the sport's doping-tarnished image.
T-Mobile, previously known as Deutsche Telekom, have sponsored the cycling team for 16 years, but had considered withdrawing their money 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.
"We want to prove a point through consistency and stability which this sport is in great need of," said T-Mobile's board chairman Hamid Akhavan. "We want to continue our involvement in cycling and support it in its effort to become a cleaner sport."
T-Mobile's riders and team management will now contribute 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.
And a warning has been issued when Akhavan added: "We reserve the right to immediately terminate the commitment in the event of further doping cases."
© AFP 2007