By Agence France Presse
Bike manufacturer Scott, the second sponsor of the Saunier Duval team, announced on Wednesday that it would step in and rescue the Spanish outfit.
Saunier Duval announced earlier on Wednesday that it had pulled out of cycling immediately in the wake of the drug scandal that engulfed its team at the Tour de France.
Italian rider Riccardo Riccò tested positive for a new version of the banned blood booster EPO after the fourth-stage time trial, prompting the team to pull out of the race last week.
Both Riccò and his compatriot Leonardo Piepoli, who had won the prestigious Bastille Day stage but had not failed a dope test, were sacked last Friday.
A statement issued by Saunier Duval on Wednesday confirmed: “This decision by the company was taken following the recent case of doping involving one of the team’s cyclists, Riccardo Riccò, and the suspicions against another cyclist.”
American firm Scott, which has supplied the team’s bikes and had a contract with Saunier Duval until 2010, said it would provide financial support to the team until the rest of the season.
“The team will be called Scott, unless a new title sponsor comes in,” said Pascal Ducrot, a Europe-based Scott company official. “After that we’re sure the team will find a new title sponsor.”
In a statement released by Saunier Duval, Scott said it was “convinced that the recent events which damaged the team’s reputation at the Tour de France were caused by individuals.”
“We see this as an opportunity to multiply our efforts to fight against doping. In the future our own anti-doping program will be far stricter.”
Saunier Duval, part of a German company specializing in domestic heaters and air conditioners, is the second sponsor to turn its back on cycling at this year’s Tour de France.
The first was Barloworld, which acted after Moises Duenas tested positive for the banned blood booster on stage four.