Friday, July 20, 2007
German prosecutors open criminal investigation against Sinkewitz
BERLIN -- German prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into T-Mobile rider Patrik Sinkewitz, who tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone before the Tour de France.
Joerg Schindler, a spokesman for the state justice ministry,
told The Associated Press on Friday the Bonn district attorney's
office is following up on an anonymous complaint filed in June
against the cyclist.
Sinkewitz, who tested positive in training on June 8, was
accused of "fraud or damages against his contract partners" in
In Germany, anyone can file a complaint, which prosecutors are
obligated to investigate if found reasonable.
Sinkewitz competed in the Tour de France, which began in London
on July 7, but dropped out after colliding with a spectator after
stage 8 on Sunday.
The investigation against 1997 Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich
also was started through a fraud complaint filed by a German
professor with no direct ties to the case. Ullrich has retired, but
prosecutors linked his DNA sample to a blood bag found in the
Madrid clinic suspected of providing top riders with doping
Cycling's ongoing doping problems also led German Interior
Minister Wolfgang Schaueble to threaten to cancel the world road
cycling championships. The event will be hosted by Stuttgart in
Shaueble joined numerous German politicians demanding the world
cycling organizations enforce strict controls or face loss of the
On Thursday, Stuttgart's city council voted to remain host of
the championships, rejecting a motion by Green party members to
However, Helmut Rau, the state sports minister, warned that
cancellation was still a possibility if Germany's strict doping
controls weren't adopted. That followed a threat by national
politicians to rescind on federal money promised to Stuttgart for
Schaueble said he considers the Stuttgart event a test of
whether cycling can be cleaned up, calling it the last chance for
"Whoever dopes or feeds doping is killing cycling," he said.
"I have always been very interested in the Tour de France, but
this year the joy was gone before it started -- professional cycling
has lost too much trust."
Sinkewitz was suspended this week by T-Mobile following
confirmation that his initial A sample was positive for
testosterone. He asked for his backup B sample to be tested, and
Germany's Cycling Federation expects the results will be known by
If the second sample is positive, Sinkewitz faces being fired by
his team and could receive a two-year ban from the sport.
His positive test prompted German public TV stations ZDF and ARD
on Wednesday to drop their coverage of the Tour "until further
notice." Private Sat-1 television picked up the coverage a day
Sinkewitz's case, which came after efforts to clean up cycling
with stiffer tests and punishments, may have repercussions among
sponsors too, especially in Germany -- the Tour's second largest
Gerolsteiner, which sponsors a team, and Skoda, an official Tour
de France sponsor, have said they will review their commitment to
cycling after this year's tour is over.
Germany's National Anti-Doping Agency said it usually takes up
to four weeks for a lab to examine a sample, noting the result of
Sinkewitz's test became known Monday. The agency then informed the
German cycling federation.