Erik Zabel's name appeared on the list of those who tested positive for EPO at the 1998 Tour de France. The German sprinter had already confessed to using EPO – one time only, in 1996, as he tearfully told a press conference in 2007. He is not yet ready to explain the positive test from two years later.
“First I have to wait for the official report and do some soul-searching,” he told the German tabloid BILD. “I don't know what sample was analysed. We have to know that and then there will be a statement.”
In May 2007, Zabel appeared at a press conference together with Rolf Aldag and he admitted to having used EPO during the first week of the Tour de France 1996. The side-effects were so great, however, that he stopped with it immediately.
The tears came when he spoke of his son Rick, who will ride for BMC Racing Team next year. "My son rides, too, and I don't want him to go through what I went through," he said.
German anti-doping crusader Werner Franke was not impressed. “In cycling you don't get anywhere if you don't cheat. Being a cheating gangster, you usually need talent as an actor. Zabel does that with his tears.”
Zabel, 43, rode professionally from 1993 to 2008. He won the green jersey at the Tour de France six times, including 1996 and 1998. Since 2012 he has been a coach at Team Katusha, which has not yet commented on the situation.
Zabel is also Sport Director for the Vattenfall Cyclassics in Hamburg, Germany's only WorldTour race. It is not yet known whether he will continue in that role for the race, which will be held on August 25.
“We will sit down with Erik Zabel and our biggest sponsor Vattenfall and talk about it,” Upsolut Sports spokesman Reinald Achilles told the dpa news agency.
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