|Even Inspektor Derrick can’t catch the dopers
You probably don’t watch much German TV. Here in France we’re treated to mid-afternoon re-runs of Derrick, a 1980s detective programme and not much else. But if German TV shows don’t export themselves, it’s worth remembering that the country is Europe’s largest and most wealthy country.
It’s against this backdrop that the idea of German broadcasters dropping the Tour de France can be seen as a significant blow to the sport. There’s talk of funding cutbacks and new priorities but there’s a pachyderm in the parlour: das doping.
It is essential that the publicly-funded German television no longer support structures that encourage crime.
The quote above is from a media editor in Germany, my translation. As you can see, this is strong stuff, meaning no public money should go into cycling. The anti-doping attitude in Germany is very strong, the country that once took to Jan Ullrich recoiled at the allegations and admissions when the T-Mobile squad imploded.
Germans won’t be deprived of the sport, there are satellite channels like Eurosport with German commentary. But losing the route into every German household matters to riders, teams and sponsors. Anyone thinking of backing the sport does it for a media return and finding the largest single market in Europe – a country of over 80 million – effectively closed is a big handicap for the sport. Reaching a more narrow subscription market is just another obstacle.
It’s also a big issue for the future of German cycling. With the loss of Milram, there are no big league teams left. Seeing big broadcasters walk away only makes the chances of resurrecting a team harder.
In summary, it’s bad news for German cycling fans but something that resonates beyond the country. When the big broadcasters of Europe’s largest countries say nein to the Tour de France then you have a crisis on your hands.