Bernhard Kohl's manager arrested

Stefan Matschiner in custody under suspicion of 'illegal acts'

The former manager of Austrian cyclist and doping offender Bernhard Kohl, was arrested overnight on suspicion of trafficking banned substances, the daily Kurier reported Tuesday in its online version, and has admitted he helped perform irregular blood transfusions for Kohl, Matschiner's lawyer said.

Matschiner, 34, who was Kohl's former manager, made these revelations to investigators following his arrest overnight on doping allegations, his lawyer Franz Essl said.

Until now, 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).

"(Stefan) Matschiner was arrested under suspicion of suppressing evidence and suspicion of illegal acts," prosecution spokesman Gerhard Jarosch told Kurier.

Matschiner was named by Austrian triathlete Lisa Huetthaler, who was suspended in October for doping, as one of her main suppliers of EPO, in a Kurier interview last week. He was arrested overnight shortly after returning to Austria following a trip to the United States.

A judge must now decide within 48 hours whether to remand him in custody.

This is just the latest in a series of recent doping arrests in Austria. Former Austrian nordic skiing coach Walter Mayer, who was involved in the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics doping scandal, was detained over a week ago on suspicion of dealing in illegal doping substances, including EPO.

An Austrian cyclist, Christof Kerschbaum, was also arrested but later released, while a Vienna pharmacist suspected of supplying Mayer and Kerschbaum with banned substances is still in custody.

Matschiner, who has always claimed his innocence, was also the manager of Danish cyclist Michael Rasmussen, who was thrown off the race at the 2007 Tour de France following doping allegations, and of Dutch athlete Simon Vroemen, who was suspended last year for using banned substances.

© AFP 2009

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