Erik Zabel admits using EPO, cortisone and transfusions

The former German sprinter, now a consultant and coach with Katusha, admits to years of performance enhancement

Erik Zabel, in an interview with a German newspaper, has admitted to doping from 1996 to 2004.

The retired sprinter, a six-time winner of the green jersey in the Tour de France, admitted to using EPO, cortisone and blood products, according to an excerpt from the interview published Sunday on the Süddeutsche Zeitung website.

“EPO, cortisone and then even blood doping. It’s really a lot,” said Zabel.

The complete interview is to be published Monday.

Zabel tested positive for a banned anabolic steroid in 1994, receiving a fine of 3,000 Swiss francs and no suspension. And he had previously admitted to a brief experimentation with EPO while preparing for the 1996 Tour.

But in the interview with Süddeutsche Zeitung he admitted to graduating from EPO to autologous transfusions as detection methods improved, saying, “I doped for years.”

“In 2003, I received a re-infusion before the Tour de France,” he said.

Last Wednesday, a French Senate commission investigating the effectiveness of the fight against doping announced that Zabel, Mario Cipollini and other riders had tested positive for EPO during the 1998 Tour de France.

That was what prompted his confession, said Zabel, 43, who retired in 2008. He is now a sport consultant and coach with Katusha.

The 43-year-old told Süddeutsche Zeitung that he lied “to keep my life, my dream life as a professional cyclist.”

“I loved it so much, the discipline, the travel,” he said. “Basically, my selfishness was the strongest (thing).”

Now, Zabel told the German newspaper, he wants to be able “to look in the mirror again.”

Editor’s note: Agence France Presse contributed to this report.