Despite the Armstrong Doping Controversy, the European Broadcasting Union Invest in Top Cycling Races

Top Quote A third long-term race broadcasting deal announced by the European Broadcasting Union showed the faith it still has for the sport of cycling since Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles. End Quote
  • (1888PressRelease) December 15, 2012 - Despite the controversy that stirred the world of cycling involving Lance Armstrong, the European Broadcasting Union still showed its faith in the sport by inking a third long-term race broadcasting deal on Wednesday.

    The commitment was extended by the EBU, covering the one-day classic Amstel Gold Race through to 2016.

    In an interview with The Associated Press, EBU director of sports and business, Stefan Kuerten said, "Apparently, there is lots of substantial interest on the market in cycling. Most of us and others are believing that cycling is on the being a proper sport again without having any problems with doping."

    In recent weeks, the union also extended rights deals for the Criterium du Dauphine, a week-long warm-up in June for the Tour de France and Tour of Flanders one-day classic. The EBU has European rights to cycling's signature event through 2015 as well.

    Details of its contracts were not revealed by the EBU but according to the union, the rights value and the size of ratings have defied the damage done by doping scandals in recent years.

    According to Kuerten, "That doesn't mean that we are closing our eyes. We clearly see there are issues that need to be solved," adding that the EBU expects to play a part in that. The director also described cycling as a "relevant and attractive Olympic sport" deserving of a wider attention on free-to air channels.

    Although no formal ties exist between the EBU and the cycling union, Kuerten said, "I assume our position will be of interest for the UCI".

    After German broadcasters ARD and ZDF has withdrawn its coverage of the 2007 Tour due to doping cases, EBU used its influence to push for future contracts that allow them to deduct fees or reduce airtime if races are proven to be tainted.

    Whatever protection clauses were inserted in the rights contracts was kept secret, but Kuerten acknowledged that they "always react to developments in the market".

    EBU expects its contracts with established races will be respected, following the talks to introduce up to 10 new events in a branded "World Series of Cycling" with the UCI.

    About the speculated changes, Kuerten has this to say, "We have to see how much at the end materializes. Very often, you see a lot of words then the implementation takes a bit longer or will never happen."

    The qualities that drew broadcasters and fans to top-level cycling are the ones to endure, according to the EBU director.

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