Rabobank will withdraw sponsorship from all of its road cycling teams at the end of the year.
The Dutch bank has made its decision in the wake of the Lance Armstrong scandal, describing a report by the US Anti-Doping Agency into the disgraced former Tour de France champion as “one that speaks volumes”.
The Texan was labeled a “serial cheat” and the leader of “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme sport has ever seen” by USADA, which published its evidence against the Texan in a 1,000 page ‘reasoned decision’ document earlier this month.
Rabobank’s CFO, Bert Bruggink, said the bank’s decision to withdraw from cycling had been painful.
“Cycling is a beautiful sport, which millions of Dutch people enjoy and a large number of those Dutch people are clients of Rabobank.
“But our decision stands: we are pulling out of professional cycling.
“It is painful. Not just for Rabobank, but especially for the enthusiasts and the cyclists who are not to blame in this.”
Ownership of the team is to be transfered to a foundation. Rabobank will fund the foundation for the first and only season next year. The bank’s name will not appear on the jersey. Pre-existing rider contracts that extend beyond 2013 will be honoured.
The bank’s decision is profoundly significant for the sport. It has sponsored cycling for 17 years, and has supported all levels of the sport, including the professional women’s team of world and Olympic road race champion, Marianne Vos.
It is understood that the bank will continue to support Vos until the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, but Dutch news organisation, Omroep Brabant, reported Vos as saying: “If Rabobank wants to support me, they’ll have to support the team. I can’t do it alone.”
The bank had expanded its support for cycling in recent years and will continue to support youth training and its cyclo-cross team.