Bernhard Kohl’s former manager gets 15-month suspended sentence

Austrian Stefan Matschiner will serve only a month in jail for attempted blood doping and supply of illegal substances

Former Austrian sports manager Stefan Matschiner was handed a 15-month suspended prison sentence by a Vienna court on Monday for attempted blood doping and supply of illegal substances.

“The public needs a clear sign that the anti-doping law is being taken seriously and is backed by penalties,” the judge said in her ruling.

Matschiner, the former manager of  Bernhard Kohl, was sentenced to 15 months in prison, with only one month compulsory. Having already spent a month in jail during his trial, Matschiner is now free, although he will remain on probation for three years.

Matschiner, suspected of being behind a major Austrian doping network, admitted during his trial that he had provided banned substances like EPO (erythropoietin), testosterone and growth hormones to eight athletes between 2005 and 2008.

Among them, he named Kohl and Austrian triathlete Lisa Huetthaler, who testified in court that they had paid him between 10,000 and 50,000 euros (13,800 and 70,000 dollars) for doping substances.

Kohl, who was stripped of his third place finish in the 2008 Tour de France for doping, also testified that Matschiner had carried out irregular blood transfusions in September 2008 for him and two other cyclists in a rented flat in Linz.

Matschiner on the other hand denied conducting any illegal blood doping after Austria introduced an anti-doping law in the summer of 2008. Until then, blood doping had not been considered an offence in Austria.

“I don’t regret anything because I can’t say I put anyone’s health in danger,” Matschiner told the court to justify his actions, adding that he had only given his athletes “what everyone else takes.”

At the start of his trial in August, Matschiner had argued that doping was as much a part of high-level sport “as breakfast.”

Where Austria once had one of the mildest doping laws in the world, it now has the most severe in the world, after introducing new amendments in January, under which athletes who are found guilty of doping could be jailed for up to 10 years on charges of fraud.