Disgraced Austrian cyclist Bernhard Kohl lifted the lid on his doping practices at last year’s Tour de France in a candid and accusatory interview published in French sports daily L’Equipe on Tuesday.
Kohl, 27, finished third in the 2008 Tour and was awarded the jersey for the best climber but was removed from the overall classification and suspended after testing positive for the banned blood booster EPO Cera.
As well as detailing his own doping regime, Kohl made a series of allegations against his former rivals.
“When I learnt that the French Anti-doping Agency was going to instigate new analysis after the Tour, then, yes, that was a real blow,” said Kohl.
“And I once again tried to reassure myself by saying: ‘OK, I’m dead, but we’re all dead!’ Lots of other riders had done it.
“What were the French authorities going to do? Delete the overall classification for the whole Tour? I told myself they wouldn’t dare. Strangely, only three of us went down (Italy’s Leonardo Piepoli and Germany’s Stefan Schumacher also tested positive after the race). I’m convinced that the top 10 could have been positive.”
Kohl, who had previously admitted to having doped since the age of 19, said he had received three blood transfusions over the course of the Tour.
“The first after the sixth stage, the second before the Pyrenees and the last one before the Alps,” he said.
The blood used in the transfusions was looked after by his manager Stefan Matschiner, who had created his own system of blood sampling and preservation after the Austrian laboratory Humanplasma, which Kohl had used in the past, was placed under investigation.
Matschiner, to whom Kohl paid 10 percent of his earnings, “made the journey to Austria three times, by plane,” according to Kohl.
“He defrosted the blood there, transported it in the hold of the plane and brought it to the hotel.”
Kohl said the transfusions normally took place between six and eight o’clock in the evening during the event.
“He’d send me an SMS: ‘You can come to my room’. I disappeared for 20 minutes, no longer. Nobody noticed anything.”
Despite his revelations, Kohl said that his then-team Gerolsteiner had no involvement in his doping.
“There was no systematic doping in the team, definitely,” he said.
“I think, however, that there could have been suspicions about what was going on, but I can’t be sure. I don’t think the boss, Hans-Michael Holczer, knew anything.”