Erik Zabel, who won 12 stages of the Tour de France and eight stages of the Vuelta a España, has admitted to "many years" of doping, according to an announcement by the International Cycling Union.
@Erik Zabel tweeted: Stepping down from my various roles in pro cycling. I need some time now for personal reflection. Thanks to everybody for your support
The cyclist was among the cyclists named on a list of doping tests published by the French Senate on 24 July. The list included several other riders, including the top two in the 1998 Tour de France - Italian Marco Pantani and German Jan Ullrich.
The 43-year-old Zabel admitted to using Erythropoietin (EPO) and cortisone, the steroid hormone, between 1996 and 2003 before retiring in 2008. Zabel contacted the UCI president Pat McQuaid to offer his resignation from the Professional Cycling Council and expressed 'regret for having lied for so long.' The cyclist also resigned as the sport director for the Vattenfall Cyclassics, according to the International Cycling Union (UCI).
A statement by UCI reads: The International Cycling Union has announced that the former sprint cyclist Erik Zabel has resigned from the Professional Cycling Council. Zabel contacted the UCI President to offer his resignation and to further express his deep regret for having lied for so long about taking performance enhancing substances. It was also revealed that Erik Zabel said that cycling is now in a cleaner era and he is no longer the right person to be a part of the Professional Cycling Council.
Team Katusha immediately suspended Erik Zabel as a coach after he admitted to systematic doping. In a statement, the team said Katusha announces the suspension of the sprinter group coach Erik Zabel after new facts about doping during his cycling career having been revealed in news reports.
The statement also reads the team management has decided to suspend Erik Zabel, who joined the team in 2012, and these revelations refer to the career of Zabel as an active racer from 1996 to 2003 and do not have any connection with Team Katusha, whatsoever.
The former German professional road bicycle racer who last raced with Milram is considered by some to be one of the greatest German cyclists and cycling sprinters of all-time with over 200 professional wins. Zabel became a professional in 1992 for a small German team. The German cyclist kept the Tour de France’s green jersey from 1996 to 2001, he won Milan-Sanremo for four times, Paris Tours for three times, and he obtained the first position of the UCI World Ranking in 2002. In October 2003, he was awarded the Ruban Jaune for winning Paris-Tours with a record average speed for a one day race of 47.55 km per hour. The cyclist tested positive for clostebol metabolites in Veenendaal on April 27, 1994 and was fined 3000 Swiss francs and lost 50 points; a suspension on probation was cancelled. Zabel and former Team Telekom teammate Rolf Aldag admitted on May 24, 2007 using EPO to prepare for the 1996 Tour de France but Zabel said he experimented with it for a week and stopped due to side effects.