Tearful Schwazer relieved by doping banBy: ELISA ANZOLIN
BOLZANO – Olympic 50 km race walk champion Alex Schwazer, who was excluded from the London Games for doping, said yesterday it was a relief to be caught for taking blood-booster EPO because of the guilt he felt after hiding it even from his girlfriend.
The Italian’s positive test was revealed two days ago when the 27-year-old, who now believes his career is over, was provisionally banned by his national Olympic Committee.
“When you wait for your girlfriend to go to train so that you can lock yourself in the bathroom and inject EPO in your veins so that no one will know, it’s not nice,” Schwazer, weeping openly, said in an hour-long news conference.
By injecting Erythropoietin (EPO), athletes aim to increase the concentration of red blood cells and consequently their aerobic capacity and athletic performance.
Flanked by his lawyer and his manager, and with his father in the audience, Schwazer referred to his girlfriend – world champion figure skater Carolina Kostner – repeatedly, saying he regretted lying to her.
Schwazer suggested he actually wanted to get caught because the guilt was psychologically devastating. He said he could have tried to skip the July 30 doping test knowing he had made a final injection a day earlier, but did not.
“I’m not made to take drugs or to deceive people, and I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t wait for the whole thing to end,” he said.
“When on the 30th (of July) the doorbell rang I knew it was the anti-doping people, I knew it was all over. It would have been enough to tell my mum not to open the door or to tell them I wasn’t home. But I couldn’t take it anymore.”
Even if he had not tested positive, he said he would not have gone to London for the 50 km race, which is scheduled for Saturday. Schwazer now hopes to lead ‘a normal life’ away from athletics where he sees his girlfriend every night ‘instead of just twice a month’.
“Carolina loves her sport. She skates because she likes it. I race walk because I’m good at it, but I don’t like doing the same exact thing 35 hours a week, and sometimes at night when I’m shattered and thinking about getting up the next morning and doing it again, I get nauseous,” he said.
The athlete said he had continued to race walk despite wanting to give up because of external pressure .