“It is with a heavy heart, but it is an irreversible decision for our bank,” Bert Bruggink of the board of governors said. “We are no longer convinced that the international professional cycling world is capable of creating a clean and honest sport.” Bruggink said the bank was shocked by the detailed allegations of doping in the report. “For us, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” he said. The teams said in a statement they will try to find new sponsors. Dutch broadcaster RTL Z reported that bicycle maker Giant — which already provides the Rabobank team’s bikes — is considering sponsoring the team. “We’re seriously considering becoming the Rabo team’s head sponsor,” Giant said. “Another option would be to give the team material support or, for example, a co-sponsorship with another partner.” The announcement Friday signaled the end of Rabobank’s sponsoring of the biggest professional cycling team in the bike-crazy Netherlands, but the team manager said the bank would continue to support its riders as they seek a new sponsor. “We hope and expect the UCI will work with us to let the team to keep its license,” Harold Knebel told national broadcaster NOS. “We hope the team can stay together.”nike air max shoes The decision came a day after the Rabobank team confirmed that the International Cycling Union had launched a doping case against one of its riders, Carlos Barredo. The UCI said it understood Rabobank’s decision “in light of the difficult period, namely the high public interest in past doping issues and perhaps a more recent action taken by the UCI against a rider of the team.” The scandal-tainted sport’s governing body said in a statement it “reaffirms its commitment to the fight against doping and full transparency about potential anti-doping rule violations.” The Rabobank men’s team includes Dutch rider Robert Gesink and Spanish colleague Luis Leon Sanchez, who won a stage in each of the last two Tours de France. The women’s team is led by world and Olympic road race champion Marianne Vos. Vos tweeted that the decision was “understandable in light of the current doping cases, but unfortunately this hurts many innocent (riders) in our sport.” The closest the Rabobank came to an overall Tour victory was halted by doping suspicions swirling around Michael Rasmussen, who was fired by the team while leading the 2007 Tour for lying about his whereabouts when he missed pre-race doping tests. Rasmussen was banned for two years, although he has maintained he raced clean and never tested positive. Another past Rabobank rider, Levi Leipheimer, was fired Wednesday by the Omega Pharma-Quick Step cycling team after confessing to doping as part of the investigation that brought down Armstrong.

 


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