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Posted: Monday May 18, 2009 11:10AM; Updated: Monday May 18, 2009 11:10AM

Banned cyclists Kohl, Rasmussen allegedly helped others dope

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Bernhard Kohl and Michael Rasmussen may have helped others dope

Both are serving two-year bans for Tour de France doping offenses

Under Austrian law, providing doping supplies to others is a criminal offense

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VIENNA (AP) -- Prosecutors in Austria are investigating whether banned cyclists Bernhard Kohl of Austria and Michael Rasmussen of Denmark helped other athletes with blood doping.

Kohl and Rasmussen -- both serving two-year bans for Tour de France doping offenses -- allegedly possessed a centrifuge for blood enrichment.

"We are investigating everyone who took part in the purchase of this equipment," Vienna State prosecution spokesman Gerhard Jarosch said Monday.

If the cyclists lent the equipment to other athletes, they could face criminal charges under Austria's anti-doping laws. If found guilty, they could face prison terms of up to five years.

Police found the centrifuge earlier this year at the home of Kohl's former manager, Stefan Matschiner.

In March, Kohl admitted he had paid Matschiner $27,000 to buy the centrifuge, which costs around $101,000. Kohl said other athletes also contributed to the purchase.

Kohl's attorney, Manfred Ainedter, denied any wrongdoing by his client.

Under Austrian law, possession of doping products is not a criminal offense, but lending or selling them to others is.

Tom Lund, president of the Danish Cyclist Union, said Rasmussen "has not been found guilty yet but it doesn't look good."

Rasmussen lives in Italy and has a pro license from the Monaco cycling federation, and is not directly connected to Denmark's cycling federation.

"We're out of this case but we're following it because it is a Danish rider," Lund said.

Rasmussen, who was also managed by Matschiner at that time, was removed from the Tour de France by his Rabobank team in 2007 when he was leading and seemed certain to win. The team said Rasmussen lied about his whereabouts when he missed pre-race doping tests.

Kohl was banned for using the blood-booster CERA at last year's Tour, where he finished in third place and won the polka-dot jersey for best climber.

Matschiner was arrested in March for allegedly playing a main role in a nationwide doping scandal.

According to his attorney Franz Essl, Matschiner admitted assisting Kohl in blood transfusions but denied supplying any banned substances.

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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