Thomas Frei has admitted that he would have continued to dope if he had not tested positive for blood booster EPO in a doping control conducted in March. The Swiss racer confessed to using the drug and was subsequently dismissed by BMC Racing Team.
"Of course I would have gone on doping. The money tempts you, it is the same for everyone," said Frei in an interview with Swiss website NZZ.ch.
Frei had been running sixth overall at the Giro del Trentino last month when his positive test result was announced. The 25-year-old said he had been in negotiation with team management for a higher salary for the coming year, due to his good work throughout the spring.
"Everything was going well," he said. "After Tirreno-Adriatico, where I was once again the most important helper for team captain Cadel Evans, the bosses talked to me about a better contract. I was on a contract of 120,000 Franken (approx USD110,800) a year, but if things had continued, I would have gotten a lot more in 2011."
Frei began his career at Astana in 2007, a year which saw multiple doping cases on the team, including those of Matthias Kessler, Alexandre Vinokourov and Andrey Kashechkin. "I never really knew who was doping. I just a very small fish on the team," said Frei of his experience with then Swiss-registered squad.
As for himself, he said that he started his pro career clean. "Then came the hard stage races, and I learned that infusions were used for recovery. Everything was legal, but I still didn't want any of it. But at some point it started [for me], because everybody does it. The doctor gives you the first shot, and then it isn't long until you give yourself the first illegal shot."
He said he took EPO, because "you stand in front of a huge mountain and don't know how to get over it. Your ambition eats you up. After all, you want to become more than just a helper."
But Frei said there was never pressure from within his teams. "I am not a victim. It was my decision to dope. I can assure you, I have never told by a boss to dope, but I have also never experienced a rider being asked why he suddenly became so fast," he said.
"From the bosses you only hear, 'We don't want any doping cases.' But what they really mean is something else."
Thank you for signing up to Cycling News. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.