Bernhard Kohl admitted Wednesday that he had doped in preparation for this year’s tour. He took full responsibility for a “bad decision,” driven in part by the fear that he wouldn’t land a new contract when his Gerolsteiner team announced plans to fold at the end of 2008.
Kohl denied that there was a systematic doping program at Gerolsteiner, despite the fact that his teammate, Stefan Schumacher, was also found to be positive for the new variant of EPO, known as CERA.
Kohl said he made the decision to use CERA following a crash in this year’s Dauphiné Libéré. Covered with road rash and unable to train, Kohl said he was doubtful that a mediocre Tour performance would help him secure a new contract.
ICU president Pat McQuaid plans to double the current penalty of two years in “aggravating circumstances.”
The longer bans would be given in cases like those of Bernhard Kohl, Riccardo Ricco and Stefan Schumacher. They tested positive for the banned endurance booster CERA during the Tour de France last July.
“I have said before that I would like to see them out of the sport for good,” McQuaid said in an interview published Wednesday on the Web site of Cycling News magazine. “However, we are obliged to follow the world anti-doping code, and that is what the UCI will do.”
Four-year bans are allowed under the World Anti-Doping Agency’s revised code, which takes effect Jan. 1. The code was approved last November in Madrid, Spain
“There is a bit more flexibility in it, and we can go up to a four-year ban in the cases of something regarded as willful cheating,” McQuaid said. “Considering that these guys were given the product and then went and took it for the Tour de France, it would be very much classified as willful cheating.