Olympic 50 kilometres race walking champion Alex Schwazer of Italy was excluded from the London Olympics on Monday after testing positive for the blood booster EPO and has retired with immediate effect.

While the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) only confirmed a positive test within the team’s ranks in a statement, Schwazer told the ANSA news agency that the substance he used was the forbidden blood booster and that the test was made at pre-Olympic training in Oberstdorf, Germany, on July 30.

“I am very sorry, I made a terrible mistake,” Schwazer told ANSA, adding that “my life in athletics ended today.” CONI said: “The President of the Italian National Olympic Committee, Giovanni Petrucci, has ordered the immediate exclusion of an athlete from the Olympic team who has not yet arrived in London.

“CONI received in mid-afternoon a notice of adverse outcome for a WADA doping test. The group leader of the discipline in question was promptly informed by CONI.” Schwazer had decided against competing in last Saturday’s 20 kilometres race, preferring instead to concentrate on the 50km event on Saturday. He was originally due to arrive in London on Thursday.

The 27-year-old won gold in the event at Beijing 2008 and also has two world championship third-place finishes in the longest distance in athletics.

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