BERLIN — German pubcasters ARD and ZDF will no longer carry live broadcasts of the Tour de France after a number of cyclists from this year’s events tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
The pubcasters cancelled their coverage of the Tour de France last year in mid-stride in the wake of widespread doping revelations but returned to cover the Tour this summer.
Speaking after a meeting of the pubcaster network’s regional directors on Thursday, ARD chairman Fritz Raff said the “sport value” of the Tour de France had been severely diminished by the increasing number of doping cases that have plagued the event months after it ended. “Therefore, the scheduling value of the event also has been greatly reduced,” he said.
Cycling in Germany has lost a great deal of credibility with the spate of doping cases in the past two years, many involving Teuton riders.
In recent days, Germany’s Team Gerolsteiner has seen two of its cyclists, Stefan Schumacher, a double stage winner at this year’s event, and Bernard Kohl of Austria test positive for an advanced version of the blood booster EPO.
Two other cyclists, Ricardo Ricco (Saunier-Duval) of Italy and teammate Leonardo Piepoli, have also tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
The cases have damaged the already battered reputation of cycling in Germany, where sponsors have pulled out of the sport and interest among TV auds has waned dramatically.
In July, only 820,000 tuned in to watch the start of the event, 50% fewer viewers than last year.