Turning to the back page of the Sunday Times’ sports section this morning I had to laugh. The lead item was about Lance Armstrong and how he “Lied about Drug Abuse With Fanatical aggression”.
Below in a huge two-thirds of a page spread was an advertisement for the Skoda Fabia.
VW subsidiary Skoda from the Czech Republic has been a huge subsidizer of the Tour de France for years and this included some of Armstrong’s drug tainted victories. You would think that a big company like Skoda would have been aware of the outrageous cheating, drug abuse and Armstong’s thuggish behaviour, but it chose to ignore this. Not only that, in its effusive praise of the event, it has turned a blind eye to its corruption. As far are as I’m aware it has never apologised for this, or shown any regret. I wonder when it found out that it’s ad was being coupled with the Armstrong story?
Skoda still plans to pour millions of euros into the Tour. You would think that Skoda would at least apologise for the errors of the past if it persists in funding this tarnished event.
Earlier this year, Dutch bank Rabobank withdrew from supporting cycling. Rabobank spent €15 million a year on the sport. It has participated in every Tour de France since 1984. At the time Rabobank had this to say about the Tour.
“We are no longer convinced that the international professional world of cycling can make this a clean and fair sport. We are not confident that this will change for the better in the foreseeable future,” Bert Bruggink, Rabobank board member, said in a statement.
“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.”
Skoda has taken part in the last nine Tours, which would have coincided with some of the victories of Lance Armstrong. But its watchword seems to include the famous “never apologise, never explain” mantra.