On site at the Tour of Beijing, Xinqiwen speaks with Li Fuyu about his doping ban and how it's been handled in China. We chat about his possible return to his dream of racing the Tour de France and another win at China Games.
Li Fuyu speaks candidly with us at the Tour of Beijing
Xinqiwen: Since the (clenbuterol) ban, it's happened (testing positive for clenbuterol) many times, and to many athletes. I think yours was the first story and we now know that it can come from the food?
Li Fuyu: For me I cannot say too much about the countries food, because the government really cares. This is a big country so I cannot say anything about the food . . . or any problems. But sometimes other countries have problems, every country . . . Spain also. But, I think it's just my bad luck.
Xinqiwen: How have you been received in China (since the ban)?
Li Fuyu: About my case I think I just wait. I just wait. I just wait, I just kept training and I wait for next year.
Xinqiwen: Has the Chinese public been supportive of your case? I live in Beijing, I know there's 'things' in the food?
Fuyu: Ya ya, everybody knows, but the sports person cannot change anything and this is a big country. The problem I think, like me, I think too much! So you cannot change (what happened). Change what? If (they) change my problem, they have to change everyone’s problem.
Xinqiwen: You have a 2 year ban?
Li Fuyu: I think this (is correct) about me. Everything is OK, but I just cannot race.
Xinqiwen: But you received a 2 year ban, yes?
Li Fuyu: I think I was just ordered, but not really. It's just orders. It's like I give orders to my riders . . . it's just an order.
Xinqiwen: Do you want to race again?
Li Fuyu: (Inaudible . . .)
Xinqiwen: What about Marco Polo?
Fuyu: No, no, Marco polo is finished in China. I want to make a small continental team. And this year the teams first race (would be) in the Tour of Taikoo. We'll go to that.
Xinqiwen: How old are you now?
Fuyu: 33. For me, you know about China. If you want to be a coach or team manager you need to drink lots of (insinuating alcohol). . . . I think you know (laughs). But I just keep training.
Xinqiwen: Where do you live now?
Fuyu: Shandong. (I spend) Some time in Shanghai with my wife and my kids in Shanghai but I just work in Shandong
Xinqiwen: Have you stayed in touch with Johan Bruyneel?
Fuyu: Ya, Johan said about this year, 'if your career is finished you can come back to the team'. I said I'm waiting and waiting. He said it's really bad. He wants me back to the team again, but next year I do not know. Two teams make one team (Radioshack merging with Leopard) so it means a lot of riders move. It's difficult to go back next year.
Xinqiwen: For you it was a dream to race in Europe?
Fuyu: Yes, the Tour de France first. But I hope I can find a good sponsor. If some sponsor wants, is very interested in the Tour de France or maybe Italy, the Giro. I hope for the (China) team. I also hope to have young guys go. This is also my dream. From Shandong province for the riders from the national team (to race the Tour).
Xinqiwen: What do you think when you see a discussion about clenbuterol? Now there have been many cases, not just Contador, where athletes have tested positive? They've changed the rules, but is it too late for you?
Fuyu: My best hope is for them to change the ruling but I think that's difficult. If Contador has no problem, everybody tries to race, but I cannot. China is different as a country sometimes (laughs).
Xinqiwen: Is the national association putting pressure on doping bodies to help your case?
Fuyu: I think the cycling federation and Shandong Province cycling federation want to help but the country said 'just stop'. Just wait.
Xinqiwen: Just don't cause problems?
Fuyu: Ya, ya . . .
Xinqiwen: Your case was in Belgium. What happened? Did doping control tell you it was positive?
Fuyu: I think really, for me, I don't know everything that happened. Pro team riders want to race Pro Tour races and you need 3 controls before the race, I did 2, but I needed one more or I couldn't do the Pro Tour race in Belgium - Ghent Wevelgem. Ya, the Pro Tour race I needed 3 controls just for blood but the team manager said after I think 3 days, you need to go to pro tour race, you need a control. I never use doping, but OK, I have to go to the doping control. I need blood and urine and it's a urine problem.
Xinqiwen: Had you come from China (direct to the race)?
Fuyu: Yes, just 5 days before. Four days or five days, so I'm sure it's from food.
Journalist: What were you feeling after the story broke?
Fuyu: Really, really bad! Really bad, it was a long time and I didn't want to see meat! I think after two months, Ok, I can eat a little bit. Always check! Just a teaspoon . . .
Xinqiwen: You said it was typical of many Chinese people to go through hardships and then they can come back and get through the hardship?
Fuyu: Ya, my dream is to be racing again. Like Lance, also at 38, 39 and race the Tour de France. My dream is I want to do the Tour de France and also the China games. After two years, I want to win (China Games) again.
Stay tuned for part two of our exclusive interview . . .
Shannon Bufton is an Aussie in Beijing. He has been a competitive road cyclist since his teenage years and has raced on 4 continents - even racing the Champs-Élysées . . . on a hire bike! Nonetheless he loves cycling and its culture, and is now in the process of developing his own cycling business in China and contributing to building Beijing's cycling community through the organization he founded - Smarter Than Car.