Michael Rasmussen, or maybe he worried that he simply wouldn't be competitive enough without some form of blood manipulation. Regardless, Kohl made the gut-wrenching decision not to attempt a comeback. No one who hasn't been there can truly understand the horror one feels when forced to accept the reality that racing - such a major part of most cyclists' lives - will no longer form an active component of their identity. It's atomizing, and a punishment infinitely worse than a two-year ban given to a younger rider who has time to restart his career and carry-on after serving a sanction.
Floyd Landis last year could change the equation somewhat. To go from Tour de France WINNER to struggling domestic pro being assessed $20 fines for mid-race littering is a helluva step-down. Maybe Kohl is counting his lucky stars that he didn't get back on the bike.
So, in reading Kohl's response to the following question from the interview with ORF.at, I couldn't help but smile for the new shopkeeper, while at the same time I lamented the lack of news on a 2010 contract for Landis. Good luck to both men!
Kohl: That's a different life. It was beautiful, but now I have new goals. Luckily I have the gift of being able to concentrate on new goals with the utmost dedication. And it gives me great pleasure. If it were not so, today I would probably cry, sit there and I wish to once again allowed to ride on bicycle races. But now I'm satisfied.
I'm glad he can say he's satisfied, and isn't dead like too many others. Read the complete interview with Bernhard Kohl here.
UPDATE: I just saw that Twisted Spoke dedicated some column inches to Mr. Kohl and his bike shop. Great quote:
"First, we’re happy for Bernhard Kohl in his post EPO life stage as a bike shop owner. He’s moved on, made amends, spoke honestly of his mistakes and most importantly, relocated his soul. Which makes the whole face-in-mirror routine a lot more fun."
And writing like Matt Walsh's makes reading about ex-dopers a lot more fun, too. So give TS a whirl, here.