PARIS // The Austrian cyclist Bernhard Kohl, who finished as best climber and third overall on the Tour de France in July, failed a dope test during the race, his team manager has confirmed. "I had a phone call from Bernhard Kohl and he admitted he was notified with the news of a positive test. The substance is EPO CERA," his Gerolsteiner team manager Hans-Michael Holczer said. Kohl is the second Gerolsteiner rider to fail a dope test on the 2008 Tour de France after the German rider Stefan Schumacher, who won the two time trials in the race, also tested positive for CERA (Continuous Erythropoiesis Receptor Activator).
The positive tests of Kohl, Schumacher and Italy's Leonardo Piepoli this month are the result of the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) retroactively testing blood samples for the new type of erythropoietin (EPO). The AFLD's Chatenay-Malabry laboratory has developed a more effective blood test to find CERA, which had been difficult to detect through urine samples. Another World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) approved laboratory in Lausanne, Switzerland, has implemented another test for CERA and blood samples from the Tour are also tested in Switzerland.
AFLD head Pierre Bordry said the Lausanne laboratory was also being used to analyse blood samples from the Tour that were taken on July 3, 4 and 15. The news of Kohl's positive test is another blow for cycling in Germany, whose state TV left last year's Tour after it was announced that Patrick Sinkewitz had tested positive for testosterone. "I think it is time for me to leave cycling," said Holczer, who had built his Gerolsteiner team on a strong anti-doping stance.
Gerolsteiner, a mineral water distribution company based in Germany, had already said they were leaving the sport at the end of the season, with Kohl having struck a deal with the Belgian team Silence-Lotto. During the Tour, the Italian Riccardo Ricco, the Spaniards Moises Duenas Nevado, Manuel Beltran, Kazakh Dmitri Fofonov and Jimmy Casper of France failed tests, although the latter was cleared by the French federation last month.