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Danish cycling team loses sponsor in fraud scandal

Monday, December 01, 2008

COPENHAGEN, Denmark —  The Danish cycling team led by former Tour de France winner Bjarne Riis lost one of its main sponsors Monday after software firm IT Factory declared bankruptcy and said its chief executive had embezzled 500 million kroner ($85 million).

The team was previously known as CSC Saxo Bank, but was due to change its name for the 2009 season after IT Factory said it would replace CSC as a co-sponsor.

However, the team's future was uncertain after IT Factory chairman Asger Jensby said the company had filed for bankruptcy and reported its chief executive, Stein Bagger, to police for suspected fraud. Bagger had stolen at least 500 million kroner ($85 million) from the company, Jensby said.

Riis said the team was forced to look for a new sponsor but was confident it would be able to compete in 2009.

"We need to go out and find a new sponsor," Riis said. "The team won't shut down."

Jensby said Bagger "disappeared" Thursday night during a trip to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. Jensby said Bagger's disappearance has been reported to Interpol.

The company in September signed a three-year contract to co-sponsor Riis' team starting Jan. 1. The announcement came after CSC, or Computer Sciences Corp., a U.S.-based IT consulting firm, said it would quit its eight-year sponsorship of the team because of doping scandals.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.





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