Alex Schwazer competes at the European Championships in 2008. Adam Davy/EMPICS Sport

Olympic walking champion booted out of games after failed drugs test

“I wanted to be stronger for this Olympics, I was wrong,” said the Beijing 2008 gold medallist Alex Schwazer, from Italy.

ITALY’S REIGNING 5OKM walk champion Alex Schwazer admitted doping on Monday and said his career was over after he was withdrawn from the Olympics for failing a drugs test, according to Italian media reports.

“My career is over. I made a mistake,” Schwazer told ANSA news agency by telephone. “I wanted to be stronger for this Olympics, I was wrong.”

Schwazer, 27, tested positive for the banned blood booster EPO during a test conducted by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) at a training camp in Oberstdorf, Germany, a source with knowledge of the case told AFP.

His coach, Michele Didoni, was quoted in the Italian media as saying that there were “no justifications” for doping. He slammed Schwazer for immaturity and for letting so many people down. He said:

Schwazer called me and told me he had bad news: that he was the one caught for doping. I didn’t even want to ask him why he did it.

“There are no justifications. Alex needs to grow up and change his life. He kept telling me he will take all the responsibility without realising his actions will affect so many people,” he added.

Schwazer’s mother was distraught by the news, Didoni said.

Remaining at home

The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) said in a statement that an athlete had been withdrawn from the Olympics for failing a drugs test.

“The president of the Italian Olympic Committee… has immediately excluded from the Olympic team an athlete who had not yet gone to London,” it said.

CONI said it had been alerted by WADA after an anti-doping control.

Schwazer was a bronze medallist at the 2005 and 2007 World Championships before striking gold at Beijing four years ago.

He had been one of Italy’s best medal hopes in London after a solid start to the season which saw him clock the fourth best time of his career.

WADA has warned the London Olympics would see the most rigorous testing regime in history, with more than 6,000 tests expected to be carried out during the fortnight-long sporting extravaganza.

- © AFP, 2012

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