Dutch bank Rabobank ended its multi-million euro backing of professional cycling on Friday, the latest sponsor scared away by a doping scandal that has engulfed seven-times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong.
Sportswear company Nike and brewing group Anheuser-Busch dropped their sponsorship of Armstrong this week while SKINS, which is a partner of the Rabobank team, said on Thursday it would reconsider its association with the sport if the UCI failed to act on doping.
But Lotto, the Belgian lottery who have been the prime sponsor of the team since 1985, said it had no plans to follow suit.
They said in a statement: "The Belgian National Lottery takes note of the decision of Rabobank to leave the world of professional cycling. The National Lottery understands this decision but chooses for a different approach: keep on aiming for clean cycling.
"The many cycling fans deserve a sport in which everyone has equal means and so has equal chances to success (as is the case with the lottery games it offers).
"The National Lottery operates in cycling sponsoring with the highest ethical standards and since entering the international cycling peloton, in 1985, the National Lottery is imposing a zero-tolerance policy with regard to doping on the teams it sponsors: small and big.
"Cycling is one of the most popular sports in Belgium and the National Lottery wants to keep on building its future. Not by shutting the eyes for what has gone wrong in the past in the peloton, but by continuing its activities on a healthy basis.
"Young starters, talents and champions of tomorrow, have a right to an honest chance to let their talent develop in an ethical environment.
"Sponsors who believe in the future of cycling shouldn’t keep looking back on yesterday but today, with the experience of the past, they should look ahead to tomorrow and help building the cycling of the future."
- National Lottery
- Rabobank team