- © RIA Novosti. Ramil Sitdikov
© RIA Novosti. Ramil Sitdikov
MOSCOW, December 3 (R-Sport) - There should be less discussion of the doping scandals that have consumed cycling, longtime team sponsor Oleg Tinkov said Wednesday.
This year has seen Lance Armstrong stripped of his seven Tour de France titles by cycling's governing body after the publication of a report alleging he took part in a sophisticated doping operation.
In February, Alberto Contador, now a rider with the Tinkov-sponsored Team Saxo-Tinkoff, lost the 2010 Tour de France title he won with Astana over a doping offence.
“This problem is exaggerated,” Tinkov said.
“As far as I understand it, the topic of doping exists everywhere, in other sports too, but nowhere does it get such phenomenal attention.”
Dutch bank Rabobank ended 17 years of top-level cycling sponsorship in October, saying it was “shocked” by the Armstrong report.
Tinkov suggested Rabobank had used the doping scandal as an excuse to leave the sport.
“Maybe they just got tired and were looking for a reason,” he said, adding that earlier cycling scandals had not deterred Rabobank.
Tinkov’s current team is the second he has sponsored, after funding the Tinkoff Credit Systems squad between 2007 and 2008.
The general manager of Team Saxo-Tinkoff is Danish former rider Bjarne Riis, who has admitted using banned substances when he won the 1996 Tour de France.