Rabobank axes pro cycle team sponsorship in wake of Armstrong scandal

Doping scandal rumbles on as company pulls plug on 17-year support for the sport; SRAM also speaks out on Armstrong
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Rabobank has announced this morning that it will end its sponsorship of both the men’s and the women’s professional cycling teams as of December 31st 2012.

But the financial services company won't sever its ties with amateur cycling, including the youth training and the cyclocross team.

Unsurprisingly, Rabobank has cited the USADA's recent doping revelations and the accompanying media storm for the move, which breaks a 17 year involvement with cycling.

The move will be especially keenly felt in women's pro cycling, an area widely seen as underfunded compared with men's pro cycling.

Bert Bruggink, member of the Managing Board, said: “It is with pain in our heart, but for the bank this is an inevitable decision. We are no longer convinced that the international professional world of cycling can make this a clean and fair sport. We are not confident that this will change for the better in the foreseeable future.”

He added: “Cycling is a beautiful sport, which millions of Dutch people enjoy and a large number of those Dutch people are clients of Rabobank. But our decision stands: we are pulling out of professional cycling. It is painful. Not just for Rabobank, but especially for the enthusiasts and the cyclists who are not to blame in this.”

SRAM has also made a statement on the scandal, terminating its sponsorshop agreement with Lance Armstrong. It said:

"In 2006, SRAM re-entered the road market and quickly rose to the top ranks in the pro-peloton. Securing both amateur and professional athlete and team relationships was key to SRAM’s success.

"In 2008, Lance Armstrong decided to come out of retirement and re-enter the 2009 racing scene. Mr. Armstrong connected with SRAM and had a small share of a minority private equity investment in SRAM beginning in September of 2008. SRAM bought out the private equity investment in June of 2011 that included Mr. Armstrong’s interest. Mr. Armstrong has not had an investment in SRAM since that time.

"SRAM is officially terminating its product sponsorship agreement with Mr. Armstrong. SRAM is disappointed with the revelations that the USADA report has brought forth.

"Moving forward, SRAM will maintain its support of the Livestrong Foundation, as we believe in its purpose and value. Additionally, SRAM will continue to support the Bontrager-Livestrong cycling team."

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