Austrians drop trafficking charges against Kohl and Rasmussen

Austrians drop trafficking charges against Kohl and Rasmussen

Criminal charges against cyclists Bernhard Kohl and Michael Rasmussen and skier Christian Hoffmann for allegedly trafficking doping products have been dropped, a trial court in Vienna, Austria, announced on Thursday.

The three men were alleged to have jointly financed the purchase of a centrifuge that they allowed other athletes to use for blood doping.

But prosecutors could not prove that Austrians Kohl and Hoffmann and Rasmussen, who is Danish, had rented out the machine to other athletes after August 2008, when a new doping law criminalizing the distribution, sale or administration of illicit performance-enhancing substances came into effect.

“The use of the centrifuge by third parties took place before the new law (outlawing blood doping in Austria) came into effect,” court spokesman Thomas Vecsey said.

“We don’t have any elements to prove prior use. You could say they were lucky,” added Vecsey.

The court confirmed that the three sportsmen had participated in the purchase of the machine and used it.

Kohl was stripped of his third place at the 2008 Tour de France after a positive dope test. Rasmussen won several Tour de France stages but had to quit the race as leader in 2007 following missed doping controls.

Cross-country skier Hoffmann won the Olympic gold in the 30km event at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.