The BMC team has fired Swiss rider Thomas Frei after he acknowledged that he had used EPO before testing positive for the blood-booster in March.
In a statement issued late Monday, the team announced that Frei had admitted using recombinant erythropoietin and would, therefore, be fired.
“Thomas Frei acted on his own and confirmed that his failure was without any relation to the BMC Racing Team,” the statement noted. “This complies with the team’s own investigation on the case. Thomas Frei is regretting the negative publicity for the team due to his violation. Thomas Frei’s violation is stated personally and separately by him to the public.”
The 25-year-old Frei learned of his doping positive during last week’s Giro del Trentino and was immediately suspended by the team. Frei has since waived his right to have the original test confirmed by a test of his B sample.
“The BMC Racing Team will now separate from Thomas Frei but thanks Thomas Frei for his honesty to confess his failure,” the statement noted. :This brings transparency to the situation and is part of the anti-doping fight the BMC Racing Team committed to be part of.”
Frei began his professional team as a member of the Astana team in 2007. He then joined BMC for the 2009 season and stayed as the team invested heavily in new talent, including reigning world champion Cadel Evans, former world champion Alessandro Ballan and U.S. champion George Hincapie.
Ballan, along with teammate Mauro Santambrogio, is currently under suspension because both riders’ names have been connected with an ongoing doping investigation in Northern Italy. If either rider is charged in connection with the case, he would also face permanent dismissal.
The team expressed greater concern about Frei’s case because, unlike Ballan and Santambrogio, Frei’s violation occurred while he was under contract with BMC. The team is largely financed by Swiss businessman Andy Rihs, whose Phonak Cycling Team was folded following doping scandals involving several riders, including Americans Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis.