Austria’s Bernhard Kohl, the best climber at this year’s Tour de France and third overall, admitted Wednesday to using CERA, the new generation of banned blood booster EPO.
Kohl’s admission, reported by Austrian state television and news site oe24.at, comes 48 hours after he failed a test for CERA, the drug in retroactive controls carried out by France’s national anti-doping agency.
The 26-year-old rider said he took the drug to help him speed up recovery after a heavy fall in June’s Dauphine Libere, a Tour de France warm-up race.
“I want to come clean,” a tearful Kohl told a press conference at Vienna airport. “I fell to temptation. The pressure was incredibly strong. I’m only human and in this exceptional situation I showed weakness.”
Kohl said he had acted alone, and insisted that Hans-Michael Holczer, his former boss at German team Gerolsteiner, knew nothing about his use of Continuous Erythropoiesis Receptor Activator (CERA).
“There was no systematic doping. Holczer knew nothing about it.”
In acknowledging his wrongdoing, Kohl, who has given up the right to have his second sample examined, faces a two-year ban, the loss of the prize money he picked up at the Tour, and the tearing up of his new three-year contract with Belgian team Silence-Lotto.
He is the fourth rider on this year’s Tour after Italian duo Riccardo Riccò and Leonardo Piepoli and Germany’s Stefan Schumacher to have been caught out by the new tests for CERA.
© BikeRadar & AFP 2008