Cycling Sponsor Gets Warm and Fuzzy
Most times a sponsor bails when scandal hits. Instead Saxo Bank did something else.
Over the past week the cycling headlines were dominated by doping stories, or should I say dramas. We had Lance Armstrong's federal investigation come to a screeching halt, followed by CAS's decision to toss out all of Alberto Contador's results since his 2010 Tour de France win and suspend him from racing until August. But wait, we aren't done!
It was a busy week for CAS. After over six years they rendered a decision on Jan Ullrich's lingering doping case. The end result - a two year ban. This means nothing to the German as he had retired and was participating in nothing more competitive than gran fondos.
Stop the presses - the German cycling federation (BDR) added an additional f-you to Ullrichs's ban - no gran fondos for you!
Ullrich had been participating in the occasional ride, such as the one recently in Miami, Florida. The German was expected to participate in a cycling day which was sponsored by a shampoo company that uses the tag line, "Doping for your hair" (I kid you not - I couldn't make this up if I tried). Well the BDR, being huge party poopers, have included these mass start rides/races are part of the ban. So it looks like Jan will be parked on the sidelines eating schnitzel. The DBR's reach only applies to Germany, so he's free to ride in any gran fondos not in his homeland.
Then early last week Patrice Ciprelli, the husband and coach of twelve-time cycling world champion Jeannie Longo, was arrested for purchasing EPO via the internet. You might remember a couple of months ago Mme Longo had missed three out-of-competition tests, but was ultimately cleared by the French Cycling Federation (FFC). Ciprelli claims that the EPO was only for personal use and not for his wife. Yeah, right. And if you believe that I got some great condos in Iraq I'd love to show you.
In the wake of all these doping scandals you would think that sponsors and fans would be running for the hills. Instead Contador has continued to receive support from not only his fans and city (not a surprise) but from his team and corporate sponsor Saxo Bank!
Saxo Bank team manager Bjarne Riis pledged his support to Contador, again, not a big surprise as he's the only guy on the team with a legitimate chance of winning a Grand Tour. In the classics the squad has a wild card chance of winning with Nick Nuyens. But let's look at the past Tour of San Luis in Argentina. Contador took two stage wins, all the while claiming to not yet be at his race weight. Contador was going to kill it this season. Team Saxo Bank is molded around the Spaniard and I don't blame Riis for standing by his man - it makes sense.
What was a surprise to me was that the corporate sponsor, Saxo Bank, ran a full page ad stating, "We support clients in their moments of success and also of difficulty, and this is equally valid for our