August 13, 2006
Phonak owner Rihs schedules Tuesday press conference
Andy Rihs, who owns the ProTour license for the Phonak team, will address the team's future at a press conference on Tuesday.
Secondary 2006 sponsor iShares had announced plans to take over the team's primary sponsorship, and the entire Tour squad was signed to contract extensions, but that was all before team leader Floyd Landis had a drug test come back with a high testosterone/epitestosterone ratio.
Phonak has fired Landis, but he looks likely to join a long list of Phonak riders who have been sanctioned for doping, a list that includes Tyler Hamilton, Santiago Perez, Oscar Camenzind, and six others in the last 3 years.
QuickStep DS Patrick Lefevere, who is also president of the International Association of Professional Cycling Teams, has advocated suing Landis and kicking Phonak out of the ProTour. Meanwhile, Skoda withdrew from its contract as the primary auto sponsor of the Tour, and it's possible that iShares has informed Rihs that they intend to do likewise.
On the one hand, I'd say don't trust Blick too much - it's about as reliable as the New York Post. On the other hand, they do have their feeder streams. Quite frankly, I'd not be surprised if iShares pulls out too - assuming Phonak will. There is too much of an uphill advertising struggle for iShares to gain the brand recognition that they may aspire too - through ProTour sponsorship.
As to calls for yanking Pro Tour licenses - you start that with Phonak and your entire ProTour will collapse. Just wait until we have all the Madrid blood doping names.
Clean up the sport, don't kill it. And tackle other sports with the same vigor (i.e., no more fat and/or "overbuilt" baseball and American football players - at all levels!
Posted by: Ivo Abraham at Aug 14, 2006 2:40:12 AM