One doping scandal too much, Adidas ends T-Mobile sponsorship
HAMBURG, Germany -- Adidas is ending its sponsorship of T-Mobile because of more doping revelations about the German cycling team.
Telekom, the team's main sponsor, also is considering terminating its relationship with the team, which bears the name of its subsidiary. That could lead car company Audi and bike manufacturer Giant to follow suit.
"Obviously it's a long story of doping and discussions with Telekom," Jan Runau, Adidas Group spokesman, told The Associated Press on Thursday. "We have told Telekom of our decision and we are in talks to get out of the contract early."
Runau said Adidas, whose contract runs through 2008, has been talking to Telekom about the doping problems since last year's scandal-ridden Tour de France. The companies have other intertwining sponsorships, including Bayern Munich and Germany's national team.
Adidas won't say what its deal with T-Mobile is worth.
Telekom is the team's biggest sponsor at a reported $14.5 million annually.
Adidas called former T-Mobile rider Patrik Sinkewitz's recent testimony to the German cycling federation a final straw.
Sinkewitz said doping continued at the team in 2006, later than previously known. He described going to the University of Freiburg clinic for illegal own-blood doping from two former T-Mobile doctors.
Sinkewitz was tested before this year's Tour de France, and the announcement of his positive test was made during the race.
Television dropped coverage of the Tour and sponsors began to end contracts. Gerolsteiner will not continue to sponsor Germany's other ProTour team after 2008.
Telekom's board met Tuesday to rethink a contract it extended in August to 2010. A decision to drop the sport would have repercussions in Germany.
"Cycling is permanently under examination at the moment. We will wait to see what happens at Telekom," Audi spokeswoman Iris Altig said.
Telekom has asked for a copy of Sinkewitz's testimony.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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