18 July 2007

German State TV Unhappy About Tour Doping, Packs Its Cameras and Goes Home

The age-old adage always goes: if you don't like a particular thing, do something about it. The indignation needed to actually do this is usually utilized only by fringe elements and the like (see: Cindy Sheehan). But now we're seeing similar action taken by German state television.

German state television is upset about the rampant doping problems with cycling, and their taking matters into their own hands. In response to T-Mobile rider Patrik Sinkewitz's testing positive for testosterone German channels ARD and ZDF didn't decide to merely cover the incident. They've packed up their cameras and gone home. Despite the fact that more than a million Germans watch the Tour de France, the networks have shelved their coverage until the Sinkewitz case is resolved.

"We cannot wait until the Tour is over," ZDF editor Nikolaus Brender told the broadcaster's lunchtime news. "There is a constant suspicion of doping."
The decision is really a curious one, and it's dubious as to who is actually being punished here. The two networks were planning on showing over 90 hours of Tour coverage before their decision, and the fans are the ones really missing out. If the networks were really interested in punishing the riders involved, they could devote their coverage and commentary to shaming the cheaters. The head of the Tour's organizer, Amaury Sport Organisation, also questioned the move:
"This decision is paradoxical as it results in a sanction against the Tour de France, which shows its will to fight against doping," ASO chairman Patrice Clerc told reporters in Marseille where the 10th stage finished on Wednesday.
This is a move it can make because it doesn't have share-holders to answer to and profits to raise. But in taking their moral stand ARD and ZDF are going against the wishes of it's real shareholders - the German people. If FOX chose to they could boycott all San Francisco Giants games, claiming a moral imperative not to reward the alleged steroids used Barry Bonds. But because they're a private company it's their prerogative to do so. At least in theory these German networks answer to the people, and here they are doing their "bosses" a disservice. So get that cycling back on the air!

7 comments:

Kevin Hayward said...

One way or another, cycling is screwed. Pretty soon only the kids riding around the cul-de-sac on tricycles will be free of steroid allegations.

In a similar vein, do you ever feel like baseball is nearing a critical mass when a whole bunch of crap will come out? How do you think the fans will react when they find out that all of their favorite players were juiced? It's not going to be pretty.

Anonymous said...

well, it's actually not much of a problem for the german cycling fans.
eurosport covers the tdf. so everyone still interested in watching simply just needs to switch to a different channel.
btw.: after the two public channels decided to pull out, the sat1/pro sieben network bought the broadcasting rights for the remaining stages. however, the commentary on sat1 is awful.

viewing figures in germany have been low this year, despite the fact that someone like kloeden still has chances to win this years tour. in a poll published yesterday a majority of respondents supported the decision of ard and zdf to stop broadcasting.

while it isn't much of a problem for the tv-viewers, this latest doping incident could likely kill german pro-cycling.
if cycling doesn't come clean, let it die.

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