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Gerolsteiner drop team sponsorship

  • Story Highlights
  • The Gerolsteiner company is ending its sponsorship of the Pro Tour team
  • They have been team sponsors since 1998 and their contract ends next year
  • Stefan Schumacher and Davide Rebellin are leading team members
  • T-Mobile have fired Lorenzo Bernucci after a positive dope test

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GEROLSTEIN, Germany -- Mineral water company Gerolsteiner have decided to drop their sponsorship of the German ProTour cycling team, which expires at the end of the 2008 season.

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German rider Stefan Schumacher is a member of the Gerolsteiner team.

Gerolsteiner, who have been team sponsors since 1998, said there was a change in marketing strategy.

Gerolsteiner has invested around $12 million annually in the team, which includes riders Stefan Schumacher, Fabian Wegmann, Markus Fothen and Robert Foerster.

Gerolsteiner said on Tuesday they were no longer reaching their targeted audience through cycling because it was changing from being solely a producer of mineral water to a supplier of nonalcoholic drinks.

Gerolsteiner team chief Hans-Michael Holczer was deeply upset by the news.

"There were tears in my eyes," said Holczer.

The German Cycling Federation (BDR) said they would help the team to find a new sponsor.

"It is not an entirely unexpected decision. After such a long collaboration, you notice changes in your partner," said Holczer, who will begin the hunt for a new sponsor.

"We have one of the best teams on the market with a national and international reputation."

The T-Mobile cycling team has fired rider Lorenzo Bernucci after his positive doping test at the Tour of Germany last month.

Bernucci violated the team's code of conduct and was removed from T-Mobile's roster at the Spanish Vuelta, the team said on Tuesday.

He tested positive for a non-amphetamine appetite suppressant.

Bernucci is licensed by the Monaco cycling federation, which will be responsible for further investigation and possible additional sanctions, T-Mobile said.

He tested positive on August 15 for the substance sibutramine, an appetite suppressant sold under various brand names, such as Reductil and Ectiva. The world governing body of cycling, UCI, informed T-Mobile of Bernucci's positive test.

Bernucci told team management that he had been using Ectiva for four years and had purchased it over the counter at a pharmacy in Italy, not knowing it been added to the list of prohibited substances by the World Anti-Doping Agency, T-Mobile said.

According to UCI rules, a first violation for sibutramine -- if it is determined that it was not intended as a performance enhancer -- can result in anything between a warning and a one-year suspension.

"We do not know if this was an attempt at performance enhancement or just poor judgment," T-Mobile team chief Bob Stapleton said.

"But we know it is unacceptable that riders take any medication without the approval of the team doctor. It's a clear violation of our code of conduct and we act now on that basis." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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