Bernhard Kohl has confirmed what the tests have already shown: that he used CERA, the latest version of the banned blood booster EPO, as part of his ?preparation? for this year?s Tour de France.
?I did it and I will accept the penalty,? Kohl said. The Austrian climber, third overall and the winner of the King of the Mountains competition, now faces a two-year suspension.
Kohl said he had cracked mentally and started taking the drug after crashing and abandoning the Dauphine Libere during the mid-race time trial.
?I had poor form, my blood values weren?t good. That?s why I took it. I gave way to temptation and made a huge mistake. The pressure was incredibly strong.
?I?m only a human being and the circumstances were exceptional. Now I?ll have to live with what I?ve done.?
The 26-year-old added that he had thought that it wasn?t possible to detect CERA – an error which has caught out more than one rider this year and which confirms that, for once, the testing for banned drugs is finally gaining ground on the cheats.
Tests for CERA have only been validated in the last few months, and four 2008 Tour riders have been caught as a result: Kohl, his Gerolsteiner team-mate (and room-mate during the Tour) Stefan Schumacher, and two Saunier Duval riders, Leonardo Piepoli and Riccardo Ricco.
Kohl insisted that there had been no organised doping in Gerolsteiner and that his team manager Hans-Michael Holczer had no idea at all about what was going on. ?He fights hard against doping. I?m sorry I deceived him.?
Holczer said: ?He?s had the courage to confess and I respect that. What I hope now is that he will reveal the names of his suppliers. Only then will we be able to sit down and talk about it all.?
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