German cycling is facing a complete breakdown this week after more revelations of doping led television broadcaster ARD to cancel coverage of the Tour de France next summer, prompting the German Cycling Federation (BDR) to call off the 2009 Tour of Germany. Now the parliamentary sport committee of the Bundestag is putting more pressure on the BDR by threatening to withhold its public funding.
“We are considering whether we will suggest that the parliamentary budget committee should completely withdrawal funding while there continues to be an ineffective fight against doping in cycling,” Social Democratic MP and sport committee chairman Peter Danckert told The Local on Friday.
The decision to cut funds for the sport could be a crushing blow after a cascade of events this week starting with the announcement by German cycling team Gerolsteiner on Monday that it would withdraw from all racing because Austrian rider Bernhard Kohl failed a drugs test. He was the second Gerolsteiner rider to test positive for the new generation of banned blood booster EPO (erythropoietin) known as CERA.
Then on Thursday, ARD said it would no longer broadcast cycling’s top competition, the Tour de France, because of widespread doping. Hours later, the BDR announced they would cancel the 2009 Tour of Germany out of fears they would no longer attract sponsors.
“ARD and ZDF made the right decision,” Danckert told The Local. “It will force the cycling professionals to change their ways.”
The move by German broadcasters is in line with the committee’s plans to make a clear signal that German cycling will have to face the consequences of continued doping scandals, he said, adding that the organization stands to lose some €12.5 million in federal funding if the initiative goes through on November 12. BDR President Rudolf Scharping is expected to make a case for the wounded organization during the proceedings.
“The BDR had a press conference and protested strongly to the threat, but that doesn’t interest me,” Danckert said. “We have a concrete responsibility, and this is the way we can prove our point.”