Olympics-Athletics-Schwazer tested positive for EPO

Tue Aug 7, 2012 11:33am EDT

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Aug 7 (Reuters) - Olympic 50 km race walk champion Alex Schwazer was excluded from the London Games on Monday for testing positive for EPO, the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) said on Tuesday.

Although his exclusion was known on Monday, the substance he tested positive for had not been revealed until now.

"Alex Schwazer gave a positive test for Erythropoietin (EPO) in an anti-doping test conducted by WADA on July 30," said CONI in a statement.

Schwazer, who has now been suspended by CONI, had been one of Italy's big medal hopes in a sport where athletes move as fast as they can while keeping one foot in contact with the ground at all times.

The Olympic 50km race walk is scheduled for Saturday. Schwazer had not yet travelled to London.

EPO is a performance-enhancing blood-booster. By injecting EPO, athletes aim to increase the concentration of red blood cells and consequently their aerobic capacity.

Schwazer became a hero in Italy four years ago after he won gold by knocking more than a minute off a 20-year-old Olympic record set by Vyacheslav Ivanenko of the former Soviet Union, despite challenging conditions.

Australian Jared Tallent was second in that race in Beijing. (Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; Editing by Mark Meadows; mark.meadows@thomsonreuters.com; Reuters Messaging:; mark.meadows.reuters.com@reuters.net; +44 20 7542 7933; For all the latest; Olympic news go to here)

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