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Frei fires A sample positive

Thomas Frei (BMC Racing)

Thomas Frei (BMC Racing) (Image credit: BMC Racing Team)

Swiss rider Thomas Frei has been withheld from competition by BMC Racing team management after he returned an A sample positive for the banned blood booster, EPO.

The 25-year-old had finished ninth in stage two of the Giro del Trentino, won by Italian rider Riccardo Riccó, to move into sixth overall. Frei was withdrawn from the event immediately pending the return of his B sample.

"It has come to our attention that Thomas Frei has been informed that he was tested A positive regarding the use of EPO," said BMC Racing President Jim Ochowicz in an official statement.

"As a consequence, the BMC Racing Team and its members have made the decision to withhold Thomas Frei from competition, in accordance with the BMC Racing Team's own policy."

This latest development comes after Alessandro Ballan was withdrawn from competition due to being named in the Mantova investigation that involved the Lampre team, the squad from which he moved late last year.

BMC Racing management has constantly reiterated that the move is no indication of the Italian's guilt and it has done likewise with the finding on Frei. "This should not be seen as pre-determination of guilt. The rider will now have to personally address the accusation," Ochowicz added.

It's bittersweet news for the team, which yesterday celebrated its first Classics win when Cadel Evans took the La Fléche Wallonne title. The squad will now focus on its Liège - Bastogne - Liège campaign, which has been hampered by an injury to Dutch rider Karsten Kroon, who fell during yesterday's event.

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