The latest revelations regarding the use of performance enhancing drugs by former star rider Patrik Sinkewitz apparently provoked the T-Mobile decision to leave cycling on Tuesday, Nov. 27.
"We have decided to take this step to distance ourselves and the brand T-Mobile from the latest doping confessions in sport and more particularly cycling," said Hamid Akhavan, Chief Executive of Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile unit.
As recently as Aug. 9, the company -- Germany's largest telecommunications provider -- had pledged to stick with cycling to the end of its contract in 2010 before re-evaluating the 10 million euros ($15 million) it spent annually in cycling sponsorships. T-Mobile, and Deutsche Telekom before it, had sponsored the team for 16 years.
"We have worked very hard with the current team management to promote a clean cycling sport but we reached the decision to continue our efforts to rid all sports of doping by applying our resources in other directions," Akhavan said.
The company said it negotiated a deal with the team for the early termination of the sponsoring contract, and that both parties had agreed to keep the details of the deal confidential.
Team to continue racing with new name
Team manager Bob Stapleton indicated, however, he intended to continue with the current squad under his own firm, High Road Sport.
"T-Mobile's decision to end its involvement in professional cycling is a challenge to the sport and our team," Stapleton told Reuters news agency. "We will review and adapt our operations and continue to advance our leadership position in athletic success and commitment to clean and fair sport that began during our work with T-Mobile."
Former T-Mobile rider Sinkewitz has been banned until 2008 after testing positive for testosterone earlier this year. He received less than the regular two-year ban because he agreed to share his doping knowledge with German authorities and the country's cycling federation.
T-Mobile riders Erik Zabel and Bjarne Riis also admitted to using performance enhancing drugs earlier in their careers.
Jan Ullrich was the subject of Germany's other high-profile doping allegations. The 1997 Tour de France winner retired last year amid alleged ties to a Spanish doctor implicated in a doping scandal. Ullrich maintains he is innocent.