Switzerland’s Thomas Frei is banned from competing until April 21, 2012 but the former BMC domestique has revealed to the Australian website 602nds that he is determined to make a clean comeback, find a professional team and realize his dream of riding down the Champs Elysees after completing the Tour de France.
Like Ivan Basso, Frei has begun to work with the Mapei centre in Italy and plans to replicate a near-full racing season during his ban. Frei openly admitted to taking micro-doses of EPO after he was caught but suggested he tested positive because he failed to drink a litre of water after taking the blood-boosting drug. Frei was Swiss Under 23 road race champion in 2002 and rode with the Astana team in 2007 and 2008, before joining BMC in 2009. He claimed he only recently began to dope but insisted it was his own decision.
Asked why he made the decision to take EPO, he told Tara Creevey: “I have asked that question to myself a few times in the last few months. I think it is a process, I always worked really hard, I tried to be really professional, then you have some people they say to you, “hey it’s easy to dope and no risk”.”
“You then start thinking about what they say over a period of time, and in the end you think, ok I can improve my level without any risk, so I can dope also. But what I say in my case I don’t have any idea if or how the micro dosing improved my levels, sometimes I rode really good races and sometimes I rode really bad ones. Same thing happened before I started micro dosing.”
“I didn’t really think “I have to do this”, but some people, like what I said earlier, give you the feeling you have to do that. I did a lot of good races without EPO micro dosing, but I wanted to improve faster, definitely I made the wrong decision, now I have to wait… and I have lost two years of my cycling career.”
Working with the Mapei Centre
Frei has been working the Mapei Centre for a month. He has agreed to under mass haemoglobin testing and will publish his blood data on line.
“I am giving the centre total transparency and I plan to show everybody my results from tests and what work I have done, so they can see how my fitness has improved without having to dope. I plan to ride better than I rode before the ban and I want to show that I am riding clean.”
“The centre and I have made a battle plan to train during the ban time. We have planned 50-60 races over the banned time, as a simulation, I have my schedule plan for 2011 already. The Mapei Centre has many ways to improve my performance and I am looking forward to learning all that they have to offer. I believe that if I do this well I can come back a better cyclist then before and a CLEAN CYCLIST!”
Despite testing positive for EPO, Frei hopes to find a team after his ban.
“In the end it’s not in my hands if I get a second chance or not! But I hope so. I think now is a hard time that I have to handle mentally. When I fight through this time and I work hard on the bike, this experience also makes me stronger mentally.”
“I am hoping that everyone will understand that I made a mistake and I admitted what I did once I was caught. I did not continue to lie when I was caught; I admitted my mistake and said I was sorry.”
“Everyone can think what they want, but also understand that we are human and we also make mistakes. Once I have served my time for doing the wrong thing I will be very thankful if I get the opportunity to ride as a professional cyclist again.”
“I have the same goals that I had before I was found positive. I think I can still be a really good domestique for a big rider, a solid helper in the climbs and one time I hope to finish the Tour de France and ride into Paris. I have never been in Paris on the Champs Elysees and my dream since I was 13 is the first time I will go there will be when I finish my first Tour de France and ride in. That is one of the reason that I want to come back, that dream keeps me alive.”