“I wanted everything, but lost everything”.
Alex Schwazer, the Italian race walk champion expelled from the London Olympics for failing doping tests, confirmed his use of EPO and said he acted alone, at a press conference in northern Italy on Wednesday.
Sobbing, the young athlete confessed his sense of “shame”, along with his anxiety of not living up to expectations after winning a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
“For these Games I wanted to be stronger and wasn’t able to say ‘no’ to doping”, he said.
The runner explained that he wanted to quit the sport more than once but felt the pressure of his family and peers to keep on going. “I was tired and fed up”, Mr Schwazer said.
The 27-year old racer said he bought the doping shots in Turkey, in September last year. For €1500, “the pharmacists gave me what I wanted”, he said. His last injection with the blood booster was the day before the test on July 30.
He said he agreed to the tests by the World Anti-Doping Agency in a “conscious suicide”, in order “to be freed from this burden”.
He still has not decided what to do in the future but said he wanted a normal life.
Mr Schwazer confirmed that nobody was aware of his use of EPO – “I didn’t want anyone to get into trouble” – and that he kept it secret for many months from from his family, his trainer and his girlfriend, the figure ice skater Carolina Kostner. He also denied the involvement of Michele Ferrari, a doctor investigated for doping cases to which he turned for training advice.
As doubts increase over his success in the past Olympics, Mr Schwazer said he hoped for a re-run of the old tests and publication of the results to prove that he has always been clean before this episode.
“They say doping makes you stronger but psychologically it was a blow”, said Mr Schwazer.