Sinkewitz tested positive for elevated testosterone levels

FRANKFURT, Germany -- T-Mobile rider Patrik Sinkewitz tested
positive for high levels of testosterone before the Tour de France,
but competed in the race until a crash forced him to drop out.

Sinkewitz was tested June 8, a month before the start of the
Tour, and the A sample came back positive, the German cycling
federation said Wednesday.

Sinkewitz participated in the Tour, which began in London on
July 7, but dropped out after crashing into a spectator after stage
8 on Sunday.

He has been provisionally suspended by his team, T-Mobile
spokesman Stefan Wagner said.

Sinkewitz has five days to decide whether to request a B sample
test. If that also comes back positive, he faces a possible ban. He
also would be fired by his team and have to pay back his annual

"It's not possible. I know nothing about it," Sinkewitz told
the German news agency DPA from a Hamburg clinic. "I am about to
have surgery. I can't deal with it now."

The rider is being treated for facial injuries, including a
broken nose, and other injuries. T-Mobile company spokesman
Christian Frommert said Sinkewitz was having surgery on his jaw.

Sinkewitz was tested with four other Telekom riders during a
training camp in the Pyrenees, Wagner said. One was Linus
Gerdemann, who won a stage at the Tour.

Germany's National Anti-Doping Agency said it usually takes up
to four weeks for a lab to examine a sample and that the result of
Sinkewitz's test became known Monday. The agency then informed the
German cycling federation.

Gerdemann, considered one of Germany's top cycling hopes along
with Sinkewitz, said the case showed that the controls were getting

"I think the possibility to dope is getting smaller and
smaller," Gerdemann said. "It's a good sign that the system is
starting to work ... the guys that try to dope, they have no chance
any more."

Last year, Sinkewitz was forced by his team to end his
cooperation with Michele Ferrari, a doctor cleared by an Italian
appeals court of distributing doping products to athletes.

T-Mobile company spokesman Christian Frommert would not rule out
that the telecommunications giant could decide to stop sponsoring
the team.

"We'll sit down after the Tour and calmly analyze the
situation," he told ARD. "It's a hard blow. We'll have to think
about sponsoring now. We are angered, disappointed, shocked."

Sinkewitz signed the International Cycling Union's new
anti-doping charter that commits riders to promise that they are
not involved in doping and agree to pay a year's salary on top of a
two-year ban if caught doping.

"If he is [positive after the B sample], he's ultimately
sanctioned and he gets a ban and he'll have to face the music as
far as the charter is concerned," UCI president Pat McQuaid said.

Bob Stapleton, T-Mobile team manager, said Sinkewitz would be
fired if the result is confirmed positive.

While elevated testosterone levels do not necessarily indicate
doping, Sinkewitz was reportedly six times over the limit.

TV stations ZDF and ARD, two public channels which have been
broadcasting the Tour, said they were dropping their coverage
"until further notice."

Sinkewitz's case is the latest to shake German cycling in the
past few months.

Several former riders for Telekom, now renamed T-Mobile,
admitted using performance-enhancing drugs in the 1990s, including
Bjarne Riis, a Dane who won the Tour de France in 1996.

Jan Ullrich, who won the 1997 Tour, has denied any wrongdoing
but retired in February after being implicated in the Spanish
blood-doping scandal known as Operation Puerto.

Just before the start of this year's Tour, Joerg Jaksche became
the first rider to admit using blood doping prepared by a Spanish
doctor. Jaksche was suspended by his team -- Tinkoff Credit Systems
-- in May.

T-Mobile's current anti-doping program is considered among the
most rigorous in cycling.

The sports' anti-doping director, Anne Gripper of the UCI, told
The Associated Press in June that the "very robust" anti-drug
programs implemented by T-Mobile and the Danish CSC team mean "it
would be almost impossible for the riders in those teams to even
consider any form of doping."

Frommert said the latest case, if confirmed, was a "clear
setback" in the team's anti-doping policy.

"We'll have to look where we made mistakes. We'll have to be
self-critical," he said.

"It's very hard for us because he is one of the young riders we
were building our future on," he said. "This is very
disappointing for German cycling."