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Bernhard Kohl at his anti-doping hearing in 2009.
Suspended Austrian speaks at USADA science symposium
Bernhard Kohl has said that it is not possible to win the Tour de France without resorting to doping. The Austrian appeared at the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's annual science symposium on Monday in Leesburg, Va.
"People know in cycling that's it's not possible to win the Tour de France without it," Bernhard Kohl told the website FanHouse.com. "It's three weeks, 3,000 km and you climb (the equivalent of) Mount Everest four times. That's just not possible."
Kohl speaks from a position of considerable experience, having doped his way to a third-place finish in the 2008 race. He was subsequently revealed to have tested positive for CERA during the Tour and handed a two-year suspension. He has since retired from the sport.
While Kohl wouldn't directly speculate on whether Alberto Contador had used doping products or methods, he noted that the average speeds ridden at the Tour might cause one to think so.
"Floyd Landis won the Tour de France and his average speed was 40 kph," Kohl said. "This year it was Contador and it was also about 40. It was nearly the same average speed. Landis was doped. Maybe in 10 or 15 years, you can win (without drugs) if we work with the anti-doping movement."
Kohl described his personal doping schedule, and how it enabled him to pass multiple doping tests.
“I was tested 200 times during my career, and 100 times I had drugs in my body,” he said, according to the New York Times. “I was caught, but 99 other times, I wasn’t. Riders think they can get away with doping because most of the time they do. Even if there is a new test for blood doping, I’m not even sure it will scare riders into stopping. The problem is just that bad.”
Richard Budgett, chief medical officer of the London Organising Committee for the 2012 Olympics, praised Kohl's disclosures. "I think it gives an insight into the attitude, focus and detail they have," he told FanHouse.com. "We see the level of sophistication and attention to detail we have to get into to actually protect the athletes who don't want to cheat."
Budgett said that he could understand Kohl's comments about doping at the Tour. "There may be a little bit of truth there. If you are going to [race] for three weeks, it's very hard to compete with somebody who is doping. It's up to us to make sure there is enough of a deterrent. [Kohl] was under the impression he was never going to be caught and he was reassured by his people that he was never going to be caught."