Monday, 29 July 2013

Erik Zabel Comes Clean...Again

Erik Zabel has little left to celebrate. In 2007 Erik Zabel stood in front of the press in floods of tears as he spoke about his 9 year old son while confessing to using EPO in the first week of the 1996 Tour de France. In his own words he described how, just on a single occasion he chose to use the performance enhancing drug before stating that thanks to the severity of the side effects, he never used it again. Today Erik Zabel told the world otherwise, having been named in the French Senate report as testing positive in the 1998 Tour...

Finding himself backed into a corner by the senate report, Zabel has decided to come clean (off of his own back of course!) again hoping that his mistakes will benefit the learning of his now 19 year old son, Rick, who has just signed a pro-contract with BMC.

He says he acted alone only through recommendations, he was never forced or pressured by any individual or team management and that the mistake is his only. It wasn't just the once - Zabel doped from 1996 right through to 2003. So why in 2007 didn't Zabel confess to a career of doping, instead concocting the 'one only' story? Well, there is no clear answer but it goes to show how cycling has changed over the last 4/5 years and post Lance Armstrong. In 2007 the 'Omerta' was probably very much alive, or at least the consequences far greater, the implications much wider. Remember, Lance was still racing in 2009.

A spokesman for the German cycling federation said that although all confessions are welcome, “The time of the revelations and the fact that the confessions are almost always partial, is an unjust and continuing burden on those in cycling today and who have nothing to do with wrongdoing of the previous generation.” Of course, with many in the sport calling for a truth and reconciliation process, just what does constitute the truth? Is it common place to confess, appear remorseful only to go and repeat your actions or conceal the full truth later on?

German Sprinter John Degenkolb said of Zabel: “I don't have a lot of sympathy for him, he didn't use his chance for a complete confession at the right time.”

Of course a confession is a confession and it goes some way in helping to understand cycling at the time but for Zabel it's a case of picking and choosing when and what to say. 2013 is a good year for those riders with past misdemeanours to come clean, there is little left in the embarrassment and many will barely raise an eyebrow as another rider from the dark days states the obvious. 2007 would have been a whole let better though... 

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