ROME (Reuters) - Italy’s Olympic 50km walk champion Alex Schwazer was excluded from the London Games on Monday after failing a doping test.
“I made a mistake. My career is finished,” Schwazer, who took gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, told the Italian news agency Ansa.
“I wanted to be stronger for this Olympics, I made a mistake.”
The confirmation came after the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) said they had excluded an athlete due to “an adverse result from an anti-doping test”.
Schwazer became a hero in Italy after winning the Olympic gold by knocking more than a minute off a 20-year-old Olympic record set by Vyacheslav Ivanenko, despite challenging conditions.
Schwazer, who set an Italian record in the 20km in March, had been one of Italy’s big gold medal hopes in a sport where athletes move as fast as they can without either foot losing contact with the ground.
Italians quickly took to the athlete’s Facebook page, where he has over 8,000 fans, to voice their disappointment and anger.
“It’s better to come last through your own efforts than to win with help. Shame on you!” wrote one.
Schwazer said last month he would not compete in the 20km and would concentrate on the 50, saying he had taken the decision with team coaches after suffering a bout of influenza.
The Italian Olympic Committee and Schwazer’s public relations managers did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment.
Reporting By Luca Trogni in Milan, editing by Alan Baldwin