Austrian blood doping lab names names
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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Austrian blood doping lab names names

by Ben Atkins at 4:40 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 

Humanplasma, the Vienna laboratory linked to the massive Austrian blood doping ring hit back at claims that it was at the centre of the network, according to AFP. Instead, for the first time, it has named several well-known Austrian coaches.

The lab named banned Austrian biathlon and cross-country coach Walter Mayer, Stefan Matschiner, former manager of Bernhard Kohl, and Martin Kessler, a rowing coach. It claimed that these three were those at the heart of the doping network that used Humanplasma's facilities between 2003 and 2006.

"Between late 2003 and early 2006, these three persons - and only these - arranged for about 30 athletes in total to have blood samples taken," the lab said in a statement.

Mayer, Matschiner and Kessler have been linked to doping practices in Austria for a long time - Mayer was received a life ban from the Olympics after a scandal at the 2006 Turin Games. Kohl was banned for two years in November 2008 after testing positive for CERA in a retrospective test of samples taken at that year’s Tour de France. He has since announced his retirement from cycling.

Until now though, Humansplasma had never named any of the key figures.

The laboratory claims that it was first approached in 2003 by Mayer and Kessler, who had insisted that blood doping was "completely legal and a widespread practice for a long time." Matschiner then joined the network in 2005.

The doping ring "set and coordinated appointments, escorted athletes to blood transfusions and picked up the concentrates which were later re-injected before races," according to the Humanplasma statement

The lab. denied that any German athletes had been involved in the doping ring, in answer to comments by Austrian Olympic Committee chief Karl Stoss. Michaela Eisler, a lab spokeswoman, also refused to comment on the nationality of other athletes involved; saying only that the blood doping did not only concern winter sports athletes.

Last year Austrian weekly Sportwoche reported that athletes from seven countries and six disciplines, including 10 cyclists and four rowers, had been involved in the doping scheme. Prosecutors investigating alleged tax evasion by Humanplasma say that 150 blood samples were taken at the laboratory.

Humanplasma insists it ended its involvement in blood doping after the 2006 Turin Olympics. The games ended in scandal and life bans for several Austrian biathlon and cross-country athletes. But claims that the practices "continued long after 2006," and added that it is now trying to clear its name.

"We have assumed responsibility for our past,” said Eisler, “but in the end, all that people remember is the name Humanplasma."

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