Discovered to have cheated en route to finishing third overall and first in the KOM competition in the 2008 Tour de France, Bernhard Kohl eventually did the most honorable thing he could and revealed the full extent of his subterfuge after being publicly humiliated for doping with CERA. And in exchange for cooperating extensively with the subsequent Austrian investigations, and naming his co-conspirators, clients and suppliers - a rare step even for repentant dopers - for his troubles Kohl was given a life ban, suspended to six years.
In contrast, despite the discovery of his blood in the freezer of notorious Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, 2006 Giro d'Italia winner Ivan Basso had the audacity to claim that his only crime was "attempted doping." With unflappable Italian style and panache, Basso explained that even though he had planned to blood dope for the 2006 Tour de France, he had actually never taken banned drugs or used blood transfusions.
“I did admit having attempted to use doping for the (2006) Tour de France and I am ready to pay the penalty for that,” Basso said. “All my wins have been achieved in a proper and clean manner and I have every intention of returning to action and continuing with the job I love once I have paid the penalty.”
Thus, the rider whose blood was identified by the moniker Birillo - the name of Basso's family dog - served an abbreviated two-year ban after refusing to admit to having done anything worse than think about doping. He returned to the lucrative top-tier of professional cycling in late-2008 and earlier this year won his second Giro d'Italia.
Bernhard Kohl, meanwhile, is the owner of a bike shop in Austria.
While Basso is again being paid hundreds of thousands of euros to ride his bike over the mountains of Europe, all the while publishing on the internet the results of numerous blood tests in an effort to convince the public (and authorities?) that he is clean, it is Bernhard Kohl who gets on with the hard work of fighting against the very same doping that - depending on your perspective - either destroyed, or fueled, his career.
Even after earning a lifetime ban from cycling for his troubles.
Lance Armstrong is waging a desperate rear-guard action to deflect scrutiny from his own possible doping back onto his accuser Floyd Landis (another Tour cheat), claiming that his compatriot's tales of a frighteningly-brazen team-wide doping program at US Postal can't be taken seriously because of Landis's history of lying about his own doping. Lost in the din is the voice of Bernhard Kohl, quietly confirming the protocol Landis detailed for conducting illegal blood transfusions during the Tour de France.
"That was exactly the way I also did it," Kohl told the Wall Street Journal, referring to Landis’ description of how the transfusions were carried out by the team. "The details of the blood bags and the checking for cameras and microphones, the cutting up of the bags and flushing them in the toilet…it all took place in exactly that way."