Former T-Mobile team-mates Erik Zabel and Rolf Aldag have confessed to using banned performance-enhancing substance EPO during the 1990s.
The riders’ doping confessions occurred at a press conference called by the T-Mobile cycling team in Bonn, Germany, and was trasmitted live on German television.
Zabel admitted to using EPO once in 1996 – the year when his team-mate Bjarne Riis won the Tour de France for Telekom, the forerunner of the T-Mobile team (see below). Zabel stated that he gave up using EPO as he could not cope with the health risks associated with taking it.
Aldag’s admission was more far-reaching, as he stated that he used EPO from 1995 to 1999.
Team general manager Bob Stapleton has confirmed that the T-Mobile ProTour squad will continue, and that he rejected Aldag’s letter of resignation from his post with the squad two weeks ago.
Stapleton took the opportunity to say that he thought that current drug tests were completely ineffective, and that something needed to be done to tighten anti-doping measures.
Erik Zabel currently rides for the Milram squad, and Rolf Aldag is sporting director of the T-Mobile team. Their confessions come after former Telekom/T-Mobile riders Udo Bolts, Christian Henn and Bert Dietz admitted to doping.
Team doctors Andreas Schmid and Lothar Heinrich were also sacked this week after being implicated in the squad’s doping practices in the 1990s.
Former T-Mobile team leader and 1997 Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich was implicated in the Operacion Puerto organised doping investigation in Spain. He was subsequently sacked from the squad last year.
Zabel’s Milram team have issued a press release stating that they will make an announcement on the situation within “the coming week”.
TELEKOM’S TOUR-WINNING TEAM OF 1996
Rolf Aldag (Admitted to doping)
Udo Bolts (Admitted to doping)
Christian Henn (Admitted to doping)
Brian Holm (Admitted to doping)
Jan Ullrich (Implicated in Operacion Puerto)
Erik Zabel (Admitted to doping).
More on this story later…