Bologna

Walk champ Schwazer hands in badge, Turkey asks about drugs

'He should lead the fight against doping' says Petrucci

Walk champ Schwazer hands in badge, Turkey asks about drugs

(ANSA) - Bologna, August 9 - Italy's disgraced Olympic walk champion, police officer Alex Schwazer, was suspended from the Carabinieri after being excluded from the London Games this week for failing a drug test. Schwazer arrived at the Bologna Carabinieri sporting headquarters a day after announcing he would turn in his gun and badge. Test results this week found traces of the EPO blood-boosting hormone in his urine samples, days before he was set to race in London. Criminal prosectors on Wednesday formally placed Schwazer under investigation for sporting fraud in Bolzano, which is near his hometown of Vipiteno in northern Italy. Schwazer said Wednesday that he was never under the influence of any substances when he won gold medal in the 50km walk in the 2008 Games in Beijing. He added that he only ever took the drug recently for the first time and with no one's help. Schwazer said he found the drug at a pharmacy in Antalya, Turkey. On Thursday Turkish pharmacists him to specify in which of their drug stores he bought the performance-enhancing drug. "In which pharmacy and in what circumstances did he buy them?" Kerem Zabun, president of the Antalya Order of Pharmacists, told the Anadolu news agency. Zabun added that drugs containing EPO are regularly checked by the health ministry and the order of pharmacists, and entrance and exit records are strictly registered and followed with drug-tracking systems. "Every phase of it is monitored. Drugs containing EPO cannot be bought at any time at pharmacies," said Zabun. Many speculate that the Beijing gold medalist would have needed help from a medical professional to acquire EPO. Meanwhile, Italy's Olympic committee chief said Thursday that Schwazer should use the scandal as an opportunity to become an anti-doping advocate "I hope so. He should become the leader in the fight against doping. That's what you need to do when you've fallen so low," Gianni Petrucci told Radio Anch'io. "But the human aspect needs to be looked after," he added, in a reference to Schwazer's emotional state following a tearful public confession Wednesday. The fall from grace has brought back memories in Italy of cyclist Macro Pantani, the former Tour de France and Giro d'Italia champion who killed himself in 2004 after doping scandals. Schwazer said on his website Thursday that it was "absurd" of him to risk relationships with friends and family "in order to be stronger in a race". He also thanked people for their support. "In such a terrible moment in my life, I've received continuous messages of support and encouragement," he said. "I've really appreciated it. They give me the strength to move on".

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