Deutsche Telekom is ending its sponsorship of professional cycling immediately to distance its brand from the doping scandals that have blighted the sport it announced today.”We arrived at this decision to separate our brand from further exposure from doping in sport and cycling specifically,” said Hamid Akhavan, Chief Executive of Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile unit. Deutsche Telekom ended sponsorship of both the men’s and women’s teams. It had been sponsoring cycling since 1991. The company said it was negotiating with Neuer Strassen Sport, the operator of the T-Mobile Team, over terminating a contract that was set to run until the end of 2010.
It is, of course, disastrous news for cycling but it is difficult to dispute the commercial sense of the decision. Whoever said “there is no such thing as bad publicity” obviously hadn’t been around Pro Cycling. I suspect it was the inability to see an end to the scandals that finally did it for Telekom.
As the contract, said to be worth $18 million a year, ran until 2010 I presume that Bob Stapleton will be able to run the team using Telekom’s pay off and will not be under any immediate pressure to find a new main sponsor. It is worth noting that T Mobile will continue to sponsor Bayern Munich so it would seem that the company believes that doping is not a major problem in football.