Third BMC cyclist suspended for doping
A Swiss cyclist riding for BMC Racing, a Swiss-American team recently invited to the 2010 Tour de France, has been taken out of competition on doping charges.
Thomas Frei, a 24-year-old racer from Olten, tested positive for the endurance-boosting drug EPO. He was currently in sixth place in the Tour du Trentin.
Team manager and co-owner Jim Ochowicz said removing Frei from competition was not an admission of guilt. The results of a second test on the same blood sample were not yet known.
“[Frei] will now have to personally address the accusation,” Ochowicz said in a statement posted on the team’s website.
BMC management had already suspended Italian riders Alessandro Ballan and Mauro Santambrogio after learning of their roles in an ongoing investigation into an earlier doping case.
Frei’s case is almost certainly more troubling for team owner Andy Rihs, a Swiss entrepreneur whose previous team, Phonak, crumbled after several high-profile doping cases. The most infamous instance saw American Floyd Landis stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title for doping after mounting a spectacular comeback late in the race.
Unlike Ballan and Santambrogio, Frei has been with the team since last year.
swissinfo.ch and agencies