Say goodbye to the pink and white uniforms of the T-Mobile cycling team because Deutsche Telekom has pulled its sponsorship effective immediately. The move surprised everyone since Deutsche Telekom/T-Mobile has, until now, maintained that it will continue to sponsor cycling, despite the doping scandals that emerged during the 2007 Tour de France. However, the confessions of Patrik Sinkewitz, a T-Mobile rider who was caught last summer, must have convinced Deutsche Telekom that all the bad publicity isn’t worth it. Sinkewitz implicated a lot of people over the years not just in T-Mobile but in other teams he had been with. It’s not clear whether everything he’s saying is true but for a sponsor, it’s the kiss of death. Perhaps T-Mobile knows there’s more coming. The team will continue cycling through 2008 and are looking for a new sponsor.
A number of sponsors have pulled out of cycling already. Some people say this is healthy for the sport but I don’t see things changing dramatically in cycling or any other professional sport as long as so much money is at stake. See my post on the future of big-money professional sports (is there one?).