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Alex Schwazer, Olympic race walk champ, fails another drug test

Alex Schwazer

ROME, ITALY - MAY 08: Alex Schwazer wins the 50KM Race Walk at IAAF Race Walking Team Campionship Rome 2016, on May 7, 2016 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images for IAAF)

Getty Images for IAAF

ROME (AP) -- Beijing Olympic race walking champion Alex Schwazer is facing another doping case, but this time he maintains he’s clean.

Four years after testing positive for EPO before the 2012 London Games and a 45-month ban, Schwazer was informed Tuesday that a May 12 retest of a Jan. 1 doping control sample showed positive traces of steroids.

“Just like four years ago, I’m here to show my face,” Schwazer said during a news conference Wednesday in the northern city of Bolzano. “But today I don’t have any apology, because there’s nothing I have to say sorry for.

“I didn’t make any error,” Schwazer added, waving his index finger for emphasis.

Schwazer, who won the 50km event at the 2008 Beijing Games, returned to competition and won the 50km at the world championships in Rome in May.

The retest was conducted after Schwazer qualified for the Rio de Janeiro Games by winning the race in Rome.

“It’s strange,” Schwazer’s lawyer, Gerhard Brandstaetter, said. “A test in January comes back negative then in May after he wins in Rome it becomes positive with anabolic substances that don’t have anything to do with endurance sports.

“Alex doesn’t have anything to do with this case,” Brandstaetter added, threatening legal action. “We’ll fight with all of our strength so that the truth comes out.”

Back in 2012, Schwazer held a news conference in Italy after it was revealed he had tested positive and broke down in tears while recounting how he hid the banned substance in the home he was sharing with star figure skater Carolina Kostner.

Schwazer said he had flown alone to Turkey the previous September with 1,500 euros (now $1,700) to buy the blood booster at a pharmacy. He said he disguised it in a box of vitamins in a refrigerator at Kostner’s home in Germany, where he was staying in July in the buildup to the 2012 Games.

Schwazer said he learned how to use EPO through the Internet and injected it daily in a bathroom to prevent Kostner and his parents from knowing what he was doing.

However, Kostner was banned for 16 months by the Italian Olympic committee for helping Schwazer evade a test and other infractions.

The 31-year-old Schwazer, who was also handed an eight-month suspended prison sentence by a court in Bolzano in December 2014, had said he was quitting the sport but later changed his mind.

His return was controversial, with some Italian athletes saying he should not have been given a chance to qualify for Rio.

“It’s a nightmare for me. It’s the worst thing that could happen,” Schwazer said. “I’ve got to get to the bottom of this, because I’ve invested too much in this.

“I’m sure there are people who don’t want me to go the Olympics. But I still believe,” Schwazer added.

The positive test was first reported by the Gazzetta dello Sport.

“I’m shocked,” Alfio Giomi, the president of the Italian track and field federation, said. “We’re attempting to understand it.”

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