Former pro rider Bernhard Kohl testified against his manager Stefan Matschiner on the first day of his trial in front of the Vienna criminal court today. Matschiner was released from custody in May after being accused of having provided performance-enhancing substances and methods - blood doping - to his clients.
Earlier in the day Matschiner admitted having given eight of his athletes EPO, testosterone and growth hormone, but he denied being guilty of supplying blood transfusions - having simply taken the blood doping equipment to Slovenia and Hungary in 2008 - before this kind of practice became illegal in Austria.
Matschiner named three athletes to whom he aided in doping: Kohl, his former Gerolsteiner teammate Markus Zberg and triathlete Lisa Hütthaler. He did not reveal the identity of five remaining athletes.
But the Austrian denied that the substances he gave his clients were a danger to their health. "They were minimal doses. I don't have a bad conscience with the treatment plans that I wrote."
Kohl took the stand later in the afternoon, and confirmed that Matschiner had aided himself and two other cyclists in blood doping on September 24, 2008 - several weeks after a new law banning the practice had been put in place in Austria.
The rider went on to detail that he had bought performance enhancing drugs from Matschiner between 2005 and 2008, saying that after he signed with T-Mobile in 2005, "I knew that I would have to submit to doping in the professional ranks if I wanted to be in the top division."
The first plan, Kohl said, involved the use of EPO and growth hormones, but after Kohl heard that the Humanplasma company was providing autologous blood doping to athletes, he told his manager that he wanted to do that. He booked appointments for treatments, but after the Olympic scandal in 2006 when several Austrian athletes fell under suspicion of blood doping, the company destroyed all the blood bags, Kohl said.
In 2008, Matschiner advised Kohl to switch to the EPO derivative CERA, for which he later tested positive during the 2008 Tour de France.
Apart from Kohl, Rasmussen and Hoffmann, the case also involves triathlete Lisa Hütthaler and Italian rider Pietro Caucchioli, who is currently sitting out a two-year doping suspension.
While Hoffman and Hütthaler will act as witnesses at a later date, Rasmussen and Caucchioli have not responded to the court call at all and will be ordered to appear again to the next court date this autumn.