German former sprinter Erik Zabel has admitted that he used doping products and blood transfusions throughout his professional career in a new interview with Germany’s leading newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.

The fresh admission comes after Zabel confessed in May 2007 that he used banned blood booster erythropoietin (EPO) ‘once’ in 1996.

Zabel was named in last week’s French Senate Commission report as one of the riders whose 1998 Tour de France urine samples retroactively tested positive for EPO.

According to Zabel’s new revelations, he first took EPO in 1996 before swtching to blood doping when a test for EPO was introduced. He also confessed to using cortisone. His period of doping ran from 1996 to 2003, during which he rode for the Telekom team. Zabel’s Telekom team-mate Jan Ullrich, runner-up in the 1998 Tour de France, also tested positive for EPO.

Zabel won the Tour de France points classification for six consecutive years, from 1996 to 2001. He won 12 stages of the Tour de France, eight stages of the Vuleta a Espana and the Milan-San Remo classic on four occasions, among his extensive list of victories. He currently works as a consultant for the Katusha team, and worked with Mark Cavendish and the Highroad squad as sprint advisor from 2009 to 2011.

A full interview with Zabel is due to be published in Süddeutsche Zeitung on Monday.

Related links



Pantani and Ullrich’s 1998 Tour de France samples positive for EPO



May 2007: Zabel and Aldag confess to doping

  • Simon Holmes

    Just think how Chris Boardman could have fared if he was riding in a level playing field.

  • Phil

    Surely all titles must be removed from those who have been found to have been cheating at the time. Just blank out the lot of the results if necessary but we can’t have cheats being held up as having won whilst cheating.

  • Stewart

    It’s amazing how each drug cheat tries to justify there cheating and think that it is ok! They had a choise and could have said NO , as many did, they were the ones that either stayed as domestics or never join the pro ranks. The cheat took the glory and the money, we would expect a burglar to be fined or jailed when caught and admits to past offences, why is it different for these frauds! They have taken money under false pretences !!! Please the power that be , don’t let them stay in our great sport and demean it any further!

  • Dourscot

    The above comment misses the point about Armstrong, The American didn’t simply dope but sustained this deception by undermining against anyone who contradicted his position, including former riders, colleagues, and journalists. He set out to intimidate anyone who questioned him. He has rightly been accused of corrupting the whole sport.

    Zabel and the others just hid their activities using evasion and secrecy; Armstrong took things a *lot* further. We should condemn them both but let’s also draw important distinctions.

  • Paul Dughan

    It seems inevitable that a heavy percentage of riders in this era have in some way or other used PED’s. What US Postal did was no different to the rest of the cheaters. The difference was that Armstrong made such a financial personal gain that his actions dwarfed the others. The level of control, bullying and forceful denial that Armstrong served up makes the weight of his contribution to the issues the main talking point. It will come as no surprise to anyone that the list of admissions will continue and we will always be looking backwards at what happened instead of looking forward and what is happening. My biggest concern is for those anonymous riders who remained true to themselves who nobody knows or remembers them who stayed clean. Ultimately they drifted into obscurity because they were honest and wanted to perform panigua. These individuals had their livelihood taken away because the old adage “well everyone was doing it”. Well not everyone was and this means it wasn’t the level playing field that the cheaters make it out to be.

    We should look to the future and hope that all recent successes are in line with legal and non-enhanced support.

    Next step should be to start testing all sports in the same way as cycling, that then would put all sport on a level playing field instead of constantly using the “another cycling bad news story” headline every time a positive test comes along.

  • JeffGoldblumIII

    Funny how he confesses only up to 2003, exactly when the statute of limitations comes into play. So nothing will be stripped. (Expect full confession in another 5 years or so)

    US Postal did have the most sophisticated programme though – you just need to look at the amount of riders who only got pinged when they left the team…

  • Steven Ostrofsky

    I assume that he will now be stripped of his 5 green jerseys, just as Armstrong was stripped of his 7 titles. Perhaps we should stop referring to the “Armstrong era”, and start referring to the “Armstrong/Zabel era”. Or, the “Armstrong/Zabel/Ulrich/Pantani/Jalabert/Basso/Vinokourov/…” era. It seems that US Postal may NOT have been the most sophisticated doping program in the history of sport after all, but just one of many doping programs that existed and continue to exist.