Bernhard Kohl facing prison for doping

By BikeRadar & AFP | Tuesday, March 31, 2009 9.00pm

Austrian cyclist Bernhard Kohl, stripped of third in last year's Tour de France for drugs, faces a maximum five-year prison sentence after admitting Tuesday to blood-doping and other offences.

Kohl told a press conference here that he had gone to the Viennese laboratory Humanplasma for transfusions with blood supplied by his former manager Stefan Matschiner.

"He (Matschiner) supplied me doping products. I did blood-doping three or four times," Kohl said.

Up to Tuesday Kohl, the best climber at last year's Tour de France and third overall, had only admitted to using CERA, the new generation of banned blood booster EPO (erythropoietin).

He was handed a two-year suspension in October by the Austrian anti-doping agency (NADA).

Earlier Tuesday Matschiner, 34, came clean on his role in helping Kohl to investigators following his arrest overnight on doping allegations, his lawyer Franz Essl said.

Matschiner however denied providing Kohl or Austrian triathlete Lisa Huetthaler with EPO or other similar banned substances.

Huetthaler had named Matschiner as one of her main suppliers of EPO in an interview last week.

Unlike possession and trafficking of banned substances, blood doping was not considered an offence in Austria until last summer.

An anti-doping amendment was passed in August that now makes both types of doping punishable by up to five years in prison, but it is not retroactive, meaning Matschiner could escape legal consequences.

Kohl said the last blood transfusion he undertook was in September though he did not say where. If the last tranfusion is found to have been done at Humansplasma, the laboratory itself could face legal action as the new laws would apply.

Matschiner, who had until now always claimed his innocence, was also the manager of Danish cyclist Michael Rasmussen, who was thrown off the 2007 Tour de France for avoiding doping tests, and of Dutch athlete Simon Vroemen, who was suspended last year for using banned substances.

© BikeRadar & AFP 2009

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