No Tour for Germany… of any kind

Bizarre move punishes Tour de France for exposing (German) drugs cheats

by Tony Farrelly   October 16, 2008  

road.cc news

 Thursday was a bad day for professional cycling and German cycling fans in particular as organisers pulled the plug on next year's Tour of Germany and the two main broadcasters ARD and ZDF both cancelled plans to broadcast next year's Tour de France. 

The moves were the latest, and possibly the most serious consequence of the recent round of failed drugs tests to hit professional cycling and the Tour de France.  

"The sporting value of the Tour de France has been reduced by the accumulation of failed drugs tests," said ARD chairman Fritz Raff after the decision was made following a meeting in Cologne.

"Therefore, its broadcast value has sunk deeply," he told the AFP news agency.

A spokesman for the UCI, the sport's governing body, said: "It's painful news but we are not completely surprised.

"We remain hopeful that with all the prodigious efforts being made in the anti-doping battle, we will be capable of quickly guaranteeing to Germany the conditions that will be newly-appreciated by sponsors, media and the public."

The Tour of Germany was pulled after organisers met with their financial backers – cycle racing's profile has sunk so low in Germany that they faced a real problem raising the necessary sponsorship needed to make the race happen. It is now cancelled indefinitely. 

Germany (or at least the German media) now seems to be engulfed in a moral panic about professional cycling – yesterday the Tour of Stuttgart was also cancelled and TV stations, newspapers and websites have all been queuing up to say that they will have nothing more to do with the sport until it cleans itself up.

The irony seems to be that this is just what cycling is attempting to do, and what it's now being punished for. it seems only logical to conclude that If the Tour organisers and French doping authorities had been content to let sleeping dogs lie, the Tour of Germany would still be on and German cycling fans would be able to enjoy next year's Tour de France without having to buy a satellite dish.

The most unpalatable fact for many in Germany seems to be not simply that so many drugs cheats have been exposed, but that so many of them were German. This seems to be too painful for many in the German media to deal with rationally.