ARD, ZDF pull plug on Tour de France

German pubwebs will no longer carry live coverage

COLOGNE, Germany -- German public broadcasters ARD and ZDF have pulled out of the Tour de France and will no longer carry live coverage of the world's most important cycling race.

Both channels said the chronic doping scandals that have plagued the Tour made it impossible to justify major coverage.

The Tour de France was once a major ratings winner in Germany, but doping charges -- in particular against German cyclist Jan Ulrich -- have tainted the event in the minds of many fans. This year's event was a ratings flop.

Germany is one of the most important TV markets for the Tour, and losing its biggest local broadcast sponsors will be a major blow for organizers and the sport of cycling as a whole.
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