T-Mobile yanks Tour sponsorship

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MUNICH -- In response to the enormous doping scandal that has clouded the Tour de France cycling event, German telecom giant T-Mobile has pulled its sponsorship of Tour coverage and will donate the full amount to an anti-doping campaign, national pubcaster ARD said Wednesday.

"We fully understand T-Mobile's motives, and so we have accepted the termination of the (company's sponsorship) contract," an ARD advertising sales and services spokeswoman said.

She added that ARD is in negotiations with T-Mobile to turn the sponsorship money into classical advertising during its coverage of the Tour.

T-Mobile, which backs a top-ranked cycling team, was the major sponsor of the event, with exclusive "presented-by" rights. The ARD spokeswoman would not comment on the total amount of the sponsorship, believed to be €1 million ($1.3 million), and T-Mobile could not be reached at press time.

News agencies are reporting that Germany's No. 2 national pubcaster, ZDF, already has reached an agreement to turn the sponsorship into regular advertising.
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