Austrian sports agent pleads guilty to steroid supply.

A former Austrian athletes’ manager who is seen as a central figure in a wide-ranging doping scandal pleaded guilty Wednesday to peddling illicit substances to eight of his clients.

On the first day of his trial in Vienna, defendant Stefan Matschiner admitted to supplying disgraced Austrian cyclist Bernhard Kohl, as well as Kohl’s former Swiss teammate Markus Zberg and Austrian triathlete Lisa Huetthaler.

Matschiner did not want to name the other five athletes to whom he sold substances, including the blood booster EPO, testosterone and growth hormones. He argued that he wanted to protect them, Austrian press agency APA reported.

The sports manager also allegedly offered blood doping services with a centrifuge financed by Kohl, former Danish cycling pro Michael Rasmussen and Austrian cross-country skiing Olympic champion Christian Hoffmann.

Matschiner did not plead guilty on this count. He said he had transferred the equipment to Slovenia and Hungary in time before a new anti-doping law made such treatment illegal in Austria in August 2008.

The defendant faces a maximum of three years in prison.

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