Croat bodybuilders banned after Austrian doping check

Five Croatian bodybuilders have been suspended for doping as court procedures against a former Austrian sports manager continue.An Austrian doping control laboratory’s analysis of samples taken during a competition in Sisak, Croatia, from Marijan Mesec, Miroslav Kolobaric, Mirsad Skaljic and Robert Horvat last May confirmed that the athletes took illegal substances.Strongman Robert Meznaric was found guilty of violating Croatian anti-doping rules by dashing out of the room in which the tests were being conducted.The Croatian Times reports today (Fri) that the disciplinary committee of the Croatian bodybuilding federation suspended the offenders for two years except for Horvat, who got away with a two-month ban.Ex-athletes manager Stefan Matschiner has meanwhile caused outcry among Austrian sportsmen by telling judges earlier this month that doping was “a daily routine such as breakfast for many top athletes”.Matschiner – who formerly managed banned cyclist Bernhard Kohl and ex-triathlete Lisa Hütthaler – admitted in Vienna’s Criminal Court to having provided his clients with prohibited performance boosters like EPO between 2005 and 2008.The 35-year-old – who spent several weeks in custody – explained that he “merged the management angle with medical aspects” while working with the sportsmen.Matschiner however pled not guilty of blood doping under the strict new anti-doping law that came into effect only in August 2008 in reaction to dozens of alleged and confirmed doping offences involving top Austrian athletes.Matschiner told judges and prosecutor Nina Weinberger that he had provided Kohl with drugs worth 6,000 Euros over the years. The former cycling pro – who was found guilty of doping after finishing the 2008 Tour de France in third place – however claimed the substances he had gotten hold of via Matschiner had been worth between 50,000 and 70,000 Euros.Kohl said in court: “After signing with (cycling team) T-Mobile, I knew I had to do ‘professional’ doping if I wanted to be among the best in the world.”The 28-year-old Lower Austrian explained several colleagues had recommended Matschiner.”He (Matschiner) simply knew which medication to take and when and how much of it,” Kohl told stunned judges.Matschiner admitted having carried out blood doping, but only as long as it was not banned in Austria. The former sports manager – who faces up to three years in jail – said he had chopped a blood centrifuge into pieces that he disposed of in rubbish bins over a few weeks.The case continues.