Ex-Olympic walking champion Schwazer cleared of doping by Italian court

Italy's Alex Schwazer, pictured in 2012, was ruled out of the 2016 Rio Olympics after losing an appeal over an eight-year doping ban
Italy's Alex Schwazer, pictured in 2012, was ruled out of the 2016 Rio Olympics after losing an appeal over an eight-year doping ban Pierre Teyssot AFP/File
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Milan (AFP)

Ex-Olympic champion walker Alex Schwazer, suspended for eight years for doping, was on Thursday cleared of criminal proceedings by an Italian judge who considered that his samples could have been altered.

Investigating Judge Walter Pelino in the northern town of Bolzano ruled for a dismissal of the case against the 2008 Olympic 50km walking champion "for not having committed the facts," AGI news agency reported.

Pelino wrote he believed "with a high degree of credibility that the urine samples taken from Alex Schwazer on January 1, 2016 had been altered to obtain a positive result (in order to) obtain the disqualification and discredit the athlete."

Schwazer, 36, 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.

"At last it says in black and white that I am innocent," Schwazer, 36, told AGI.

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 had not disputed the results of that test.

Judge Pelino criticised the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the International Athletics Federation (IAAF) two bodies he said "operate in a completely self-referential manner, not tolerating external controls."

Schwazer has continued to train in the hope of competing in the Tokyo Olympics, stating: "I would like to end my career as I want, not as others wanted."