Zabel is allowed to continue riding for Team Milram

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29.05.2007/ Team Milrams management and its main sponsor Nordmilch AG have  decided that Erik Zabel is allowed to continue riding for Team Milram  at first. Last week Erik Zabel admitted that he once tried performance enhancing substances in 1996 during his time at Team Telekom. According to a pressrelease of Team Milram this offence was singular in his whole career.

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Erik Zabel during last years Tour of Germany (Picture: Cyclingheroes)

As already announced, the responsible persons of Team Milram and its main sponosor Nordmilch AG held an extensive and clarifying conversation with Erik Zabel. As the result of this conversation it was decided that Erik Zabel is allowed to fulfil his contract, subject to the definite legal examination, at first for the current year. If Zabel will fulfil his three years’ contract with Team Milram completely until the end of 2008 will be decided at the end of this year.

The decision to continue the collaboration with Erik Zabel is based on a detailled examination of the individual case and the respect for the extraordinarily successful sporty career, but also on the reaction of official organisations, organisers and especially of the public. "The decision wasn’t easy for us. Team Milram takes the ProTour Teams’ ethic code very seriously. But Zabel’s offence dates back 11 years and according to the UCI’s anti-doping-rules is time-barred.

Simultaneously we received positive signals from the UCI, IPCT and ASO. Had this incident happened during his time at Team Milram, no conversation would have taken place anymore. At the end of this year we are going to decide if we will continue working with Erik Zabel next year," Teammanager Gianluigi Stanga said.

Gerry van Gerwen, Team Milrams Commercial Manager, supports Stanga’s declarations: "We contacted the UCI President Pat McQuaid, the IPCT President Patrick Lefevre and Christian Prudehomme of ASO at once. All three supported us in the decision that Erik Zabel is allowed to continue riding for Team Milram. Zabel’s openness is to be a role model for the peloton. Everybody who loves professional cycling wants clean performances."

After deliberate considerations Nordmilch AG also supported Team Milram’s management to maintain the collaboration with Erik Zabel. "We talked to Erik Zabel very insistently and made it clear to him that we explicitely disapprove his doping offence and the long time of his silence. But Erik Zabel credibly ensured us that this incident was a singular case. The singularity, his way of revealing his past towards the public as well as the numerous positive reactions of our consumers within the past days were crucial for our decisison. We regard Zabel’s avowal as a late, but important contribution to the refurbishment of the past. Clean cycling is the significant basis of our still young sponsoring engagement. For this reason we examined the individual case Zabel very diligently from our sponsor’s point of view and came to the decision that Erik Zabel is allowed to continue riding for our team. However, the incident will lead to sanctions for Erk Zabel, which we will communicate to him within the next weeks," Martin Mischel, Director Sales and Marketing, explains the Nordmilch AG’s decision.

Erik Zabel shows himself relieved after the conversation with the persons responsible of Team Milram and the Nordmilch AG. "It was important for me to reveal my past. After I apologised to the public on Thursday I explicitly want to apologise to the management and my colleagues at Team Milram as well as to our main sponsor. I am thankful that the persons responsible appreciate my openness and that they have decided that I am allowed to continue riding for Team Milram. Since last year we established a huge passion for clean cycling with our young riders at Team Milram. I’m looking forward to be allowed to be a part of this team further on."

Erik Zabel returns to Team Milram’s regular racing business with immediate effect. Therefore, Zabel will start for Team Milram at the Tour of Bavaria, which begins tomorrow in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

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