Lifestyle & Belief

Tearful apology from Olympic race walker caught doping


President of the World Anti-Doping Agency John Fahey (L) speaks as President of FINA Rene Bouchard (R) watches on during a World Anti Doping Agency Briefing ahead of the 2012 London Olympic Games at the Main Press Centre on July 25, 2012 in London, England.


Jeff J Mitchell

Olympic race walking champion Alex Schwazer broke down in tears as he revealed the details of the EPO doping habit that banned him from competing in the Games.

"I made a huge error," Schwazer told reporters at a news conference in Bolzano in northern Italy. "And I can only repeat, I'm sorry."

Schwazer was expelled from the Games on Monday after the Italian Olympic Committee revealed a blood test taken July 30 tested positive for EPO, reports Yahoo! Sports.

He gave a detailed account of how he started using EOP after succumbing to pressure to beat his 2008 record. Yahoo! Sports reports that Schwazer became a star in Italy after beating a record set by 20-year-old Russian Vyacheslav Ivanenko and taking home the gold.

Schwazer told reporters that flew alone to Turkey in September with roughly $1,850 to buy the blood booster at a pharmacy, according to AP.

He kept the illegal drugs in a box of vitamins in a refrigerator. Schwazer was staying with his girlfriend, figure skater Carolina Kostner, at her home in Germany, according to AGI.

"These three weeks were the hardest of my life because they always say that doping makes you stronger but psychologically, for me it was a killer," he said.

"I had to lie to my girlfriend every day. Every day I woke up at two, at three, at four, at five in the morning, with an eye on the watch, knowing that from 6 am onwards the anti-doping controllers could come and I would have to tell my girlfriend not to open because if she would, I would test positive. This was very difficult for me."

The concept of doping to compete in a walking event might sound odd but the sport has not been immune to doping scandals. In 2008, five top Russian race walkers were banned for doping, including one world record holder, reports Reuters.

The drug, erythropoietin, known as EPO, is a protein hormone that when injected stimulates the production of red blood cells and increases blood oxygen.
Schwazer was scheduled to compete in the Olympic 50km race walk scheduled for Saturday. He is still at home in Italy and had not traveled to London.