Cycling - Will T-mobile Retire From the Cycling Section?

By: Emeli Dean

First Sergej Gontschar, then Patrik Sinkewitz and at the end Lorenzo Bernucci as well. Three cyclists, who had to leave the T-Mobile Team this year. The 36-year-old Ukrainian Sergej Gontschar was released last June 20th due to an offense against the team's intern code of conduct. The decision was made from the team-management after an independent committee met and reviewed the information. Sergej achieved two victories over the time trial at last year's Tour de France and was also entitled to wear the yellow tricot temporary.

The Italian Lorenzo Bernucci, who was born in 1979 in Saranza, cycled in his first years from 2002 to 2004 for the Belgium squad Landbouwkrediet-Colnago. After their removal he changed over to the T-Mobile Team. After he was tested positive to appetite suppressant Sibutramin the T-Mobile Team released him as well on September 4th this year. Sibutramin is on the list of prohibited substances since 2006.

Even before Bernucci, the German Patrick Sinkewitz was released after he confessed on July 31st, 2007 that he was taking the medication Testogel. Sinkewitz had been cycling for the T-Mobil Team since 2006. He made his confession because of the positive come out of an A-sample which was taken from him on June 8th. He passed on the B-sample and accepted a two years suspension as well as a disqualification from the Tour de France of minimum four years.

Sinkewitz commented that the office for blood transfusions in the hospital in Freiburg was not created exclusively for him. He speaks about systematically doping in the team even still during the Tour de France 2006. With his confession the 27-years-old Sinkewitz hopes he can benefit from the principal witness regulation which according to the present arrangement would drop his suspension down to one year. The German Jorg Jaschke also wants to return into his professional career. The T-Mobile Team had installed one of the keenest Anti-Doping-Programs just this year together with the Danish CSC-Team after the incidents in 2006.

The management of the German Telekom Corporation whose daughter T-Mobile sponsors the squad since 1991, set up a meeting to verify the option to retire from the cycling section. The existing contract which is valid until 2010 would be terminated. Should the T-Mobile Team really retire then it could be possible we soon won't see any German Team in the cycling section anymore due to an uncertain future of the Team Gerolsteiner also undefined after 2008. Its manager Holczer explained: "They are doing a consumer credit check for the intern backup. The sense and aim of sponsoring is after all to sell the bottles". If this type of advertisement doesn't help the Gerolsteiner-Association to sell their product, a contract extension will be doubtful.

At the moment T-Mobile consists of a team of 29 cyclists and is managed by the American Bob Stapleton who also owns the Pro-Tour-License for the team. He reports: "We have replaced most of the people in management and most of the cyclists such as we installed an ample Anti-Doping-Program. For 2008 we have optimized this route more". Until now there is nothing decided and we can still hope for a happy ending for the German team.

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