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Ex-Olympic walking champion Schwazer blocked from Paris Games

Ex-Olympic champion walker Alex Schwazer, suspended for doping until August next year, has lost his last hope of participating in the 2024 Paris Games, the Italian has announced during a reality TV show.

“The decision (by the World Anti-Doping Agency, WADA) was announced after two years and it is not in my favour. I’m really sorry, because I remain convinced that this decision is fundamentally wrong. It was not taken in a neutral way,” Schwazer, 38, revealed during the “Grande Fratello” show, the Italian version of “Big Brother” on Thursday. 

“I believe I’m paying the price for never having accepted the decision of sports justice and for having fought for years to prove my innocence,” the 2008 Olympic 50km champion told his ‘housemates’. 

“In the coming days, I will consider the next steps regarding this decision and my presence here in the house,” added Schwazer.

The Italian was suspended for eight years just before the 2016 Olympics for testing positive for anabolic steroids, but has claimed he was the victim of foul play. 

The samples taken on January 1, 2016, had initially given negative results but a new analysis, the following May, revealed traces of doping products. 

Schwazer had previously served a three-and-a-half year ban for testing positive for the blood booster erythropoietin (EPO) before the 2012 London Olympics. He has not disputed the results of that test.

WADA hit the Italian, winner of the 50km race walk at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, with an eight-year ban for his second offence.

But Schwazer was cleared of criminal proceedings by an Italian judge who considered that his samples from 2016 could have been altered.

Following this decision which opened the way for his participation in the Tokyo 2021 Olympics, he appealed to the Swiss federal courts to obtain his reinstatement, but it was refused. 

In April 2022, two reports commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Athletics Federation concluded that the sample at the origin of his positive test “was not subject to any form of manipulation”. 

Schwazer, a double world bronze medallist in 2005 and 2007 in the 50km and the 2010 European champion in the 20km, has since become a coach.

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