Alex Schwarzer: “I Don’T See Myself As An Athlete Anymore. I Just Want Justice.”

2021-02-25   |   by CusiGO

It’s Tuesday, February 23, and it’s 8 a.m., and Alex Schwarzer (vitrano, Italy; 36) answers the phone with the same energy as 11 a.m. He has completed a working meeting with an athlete from an amateur group he trains. After nearly five years of judicial struggle, the Italian businessman felt happy and relieved. On January 1, 2016, he was subjected to a surprise inspection (on December 16, 2015, Italian businessmen testified in the criminal trial of two doctors, one of whom was Roberto fischetto, an Anti Doping official of IAAF). The samples were analyzed by Cologne laboratory and the results were negative. IAAF asked for more specific tests to test for synthetic testosterone, but it was eventually found and confirmed positive in Schwarzer’s urine. The defense asked for a DNA test, and the borzano court asked Cologne’s lab for a DNA test, and it took two years to obtain samples (it had to ask for two letters of authorization for international investigations, in which experts tried to stuff unsealed bottles, The failure of the chain of custody and the amount of urine stored were recorded. Italian athletes’ bottles contain a lot of “abnormal” DNA, which can be considered physiological. According to judge Walter pellino in an 87 page car, his testosterone positive sample was tampered with on January 1, 2016, “so that he can detect positive, resulting in suspension and discredit of both the athlete and his coach Sandro Donati.”. The court in Bolzano acquitted Schwarzer on the 18th, which is a felony in Italy. TAS sentenced him to eight years’ probation in August 2016. “I’ve never suffered this kind of wear and tear in any competition,” concludes schwazer, the champion of the 50km Long March at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the father of a four year old girl and a four month old baby.

Questions. In July 2016, you wrote in a letter: “I never thought of such a thing. It’s like I was disqualified in the competition… ”

answer. Yes, yes. I’ve talked to Sandro about the dittelizi case (Anna Maria, Donati’s athlete, was also a victim of manipulation 22 years ago, and her urine sample was positive for caffeine contamination), but it’s all gossip, and I never thought it would happen. Your disqualification could have happened to all of us and you accepted it. But it’s a thing that’s rarely recorded. It’s been a tough few years, but I’m happy now because I can finally turn a new page.

Q. Why do you tamper with your samples and frame you?

A. This is you ask me many questions, I don’t have an answer. Yes, a few assumptions. I think the most comfortable way is to kill Sandro, too. For years, I didn’t become the champion of Anti Doping like Sandro (he was expelled from the Italian track and field Federation in the 1980s for refusing to give doping to athletes); his commitment and struggle bothered more than one person. When you hit me, you hit Sandro’s reputation. I’m quite sure; I don’t know what else I can say about the rest, because such a strange thing happened in this story, even if I was the main victim to me, it was difficult to answer.

Q: how do you feel in these four and a half years?

A. There are a lot of hard and frustrating moments. Because I am an athlete, my place is the street, not the classroom of the court. I find myself in an environment that doesn’t belong to me, and you don’t say, “well, I’m ready for this game, I’m more or less good, I’ll walk well, I’ll walk badly, I’ll be normal.” Not here, there are many unknowns, starting from whether the day when we can prove the truth will come. It’s a fight I don’t know when I’ll get there. When you race, you know you’re 50 kilometers ahead, and then it’s over. No, it could be one year, two years, and finally four and a half years. It’s not easy, but I’ve never lost faith in the day of truth. Also because the longer the time, the more likely it is to cross the details of the finish line.

How are you feeling now?

A. It’s still hard for me to express. I need more time to understand what happened and absorb it. I’ve been on the phone for days and I haven’t calmed down to explain it.

Who helped him not fall into the black hole?

A. Sandro has always been with me and has a lot of experience in this area. He told me what evidence we needed and what we needed to investigate. And then my family. When you have a family, you have to pull yourself together and think about finding a job and salary. With these responsibilities, I soon won’t have to think about this story all day long; if it wasn’t for my family, I would definitely fall into the pit. It also helped me retrain, even though it took me a long time. In fact, without family, it would be very complicated, because deep down in your heart, you still think that you are just an athlete, not a person, you look like an athlete who is the victim of a serious thing. With a family, you will find that there are good things in life.

Q: when you saw Roberto fischerto (IAAF Anti Doping official) write down the sentence “this kluko (German, surnamed Schwarzer) must die”, what was in your mind?

A. Er… I’ve seen worse. I’m starting to realize everything now. Now that we have achieved the goal of proving the truth, I just want to enjoy the good things. I don’t want to think about what ficheto said, or about Wada’s statement challenging the Italian judge’s decision. These are ridiculous, I don’t want to let negative things into my mind, because now there are only beautiful things. We’ve been fighting for so long, and I want to have a good time.

Q. How did you wake up the day after your acquittal?

A. My wife made me a cake with five Olympic rings. ADA asked me, “Dad, are you five years old? “, In fact, the first thing I thought about that morning was trying to meet all the interview requirements and how to match the job and training. It’s a strange feeling, because before I get up, the first thing I think about is the next step that must be taken in this fight. Now that the battle is over, I feel relaxed and relieved. I feel like an ordinary person, no longer fighting.

Q. Is there any news that excites you?

A. What I like most is that the Italian sports institutions have come to life again, standing on my side. Giovanni marago, chairman of the committee, and mestafano, chairman of the Italian Sports Federation. I used to fight alone. Sandro, my lawyer and I haven’t had a lot of support in the last four and a half years. I’m happy to have them now because of the steps that need to be taken from now on (getting the TA to cancel his punishment and be able to qualify and compete in the game). If I find myself alone again, I don’t want to go on because I’m tired.

Do you want to go to Tokyo?

A. I’d love to. Yes, I wish I could. I was punished for what I didn’t do. I’m 36 years old and I want to take part in some more competitions; this year, next year. But it’s not in my hands, I know it’s complicated, because the era of sports justice is not an ordinary era.

Q: you never stop training?

A. I never stopped, but I stopped again in November 2019. I used to run three or four times a week so I could feel better. I haven’t stopped since November 2019, but at the rate of training four times a week. I’m in a low-key state. There’s nothing like a good athlete who trains twice a day. But I have reason to start over. I’m 40-50%.

Q. Why didn’t you train until November 2019?

A. After coming back from Rio, I was not competitive (TAS rejected his ban), and my only goal was justice. I don’t want to be an athlete anymore. I don’t even want to be an athlete anymore. I just want to do justice. By the time I got back to the training ground, the first order of the pre-trial judge had made it clear that what had happened was very serious. At that moment, I began to think there was hope for that, because I saw that the Italian judiciary was willing to come to the end. He came up with a famous saying: “he didn’t commit a crime.”

P. Judge Perino has more straightforward words in his car. “It is understandable that Wada and IAAF refused to accept scientific evidence in order to save face.” Another: “we stand in front of a card Castle specially built for deception…”

A. I’m glad that in this sentence, everything that happened in the past four years has turned into black and white, because I often hear the sports Justice Department say “unfortunate coincidence” and so on. Well, I know you sometimes want to keep things to a minimum so you don’t mess things up and make as little noise as possible… But as far as I’m concerned, it took more than a year to get the famous bottle. My samples were kidnapped, and at the request of the borzano court, a German judge asked them to do so in a power of attorney for an international investigation, because doping is a crime in Italy… I really don’t know, and I don’t understand, how an ordinary citizen can deny that. I don’t think it’s possible. Then, when you were allowed to go to the Cologne lab to get the bottle, an open bottle appeared. It could be the perfect you! They tried to take it from the experts. I just don’t know if it’s normal in the judicial process… Great. That’s why I’m glad it’s all written down, because it’s all real.

Q. What else confuses you about this story?

A. Your role has been reversed. Usually, IAAF or wtaf should be the first to be happy if they do more analysis, while athletes, on the contrary, are afraid of further analysis. In my case, the opposite is true: whenever the Italian judiciary makes a request, the World Federation of athletics and the IAAF always oppose or try to stop it. It makes me sick, because I think about the system, the athletes, what the sports world should look like, and in the end it’s not. I want someone to stop and think about it. Since Sochi in 2014, the bottle can be opened. I want to know how it is today? What kind of bottle is used for inspection? Seven years have passed. I don’t think it’s normal. Therefore, the World Federation of athletics and the International Federation of athletics did not attack the judge’s decision, but focused on ensuring the use of safe, non manipulated bottles. Not for me, not for all the other athletes.

Q. Does anyone worry you about that? Is this a conversation with athletes?

A. I think we have too many athletes, 95% of them don’t even ask this question. They don’t want to know if the urine they just took from you will go into the lab, you won’t see it anymore. As you think: I’ll never do that.

Q. You usually think that, don’t you?

A. Of course. Listen, before you appoint ficheto: in May 2016, when I was sentenced to prison for EPO (in 2012, he was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment and testified in a trial against ficheto and others), when I entered the competition again, they appointed ficheto as the Anti Doping Control Director of the competition… Because it’s not just about my competitors, I was thinking about how I could control him…

Q: the hardest time?

A. Many of them have forgotten. I just don’t remember. For example, I don’t remember the day Sandro and my lawyer called me (June 2016) and told me the result was positive. I was shocked. I remember one day when the assistant in Rio refused us to take preventive measures to participate in the competition, and we took a taxi to the airport to go home. We passed the 20km track the next day (one of Schwarzer’s two races). I look out the window and I think, tomorrow I’ll play here and they won’t let me. I’m innocent. It’s the worst thing for an athlete.

Q. Some people even continue to doubt you because you were fined for taking EPO in 2012. Why put the label on it?

A. Well, according to this reasoning, if an athlete is tested negative for the first time, he doesn’t have to go through it again, does he? According to this reasoning, you deny yourself, and you prove that you don’t take drugs just because you never do them.

Q. Some people think that it doesn’t matter what happens when EPO is positive, because people who take stimulants once are not eligible to compete again.

A. I made a mistake. I’m guilty. But I took the punishment. Once you are punished, you must have the same rights as others.

Q: who paid you back in the past four and a half years?

A. I don’t think so, because you can’t go back. I’m glad justice has been done. If… You can’t go anywhere. I am realistic, living in the present, only thinking about the near future. That’s why I want at least someone to give me the remaining two years of my career with dignity. I will.

What did the story teach you?

A. If a man knows that he has done nothing wrong, he must try to prove it, even though he faces the enemy. If someone is suffering a little injustice every day, and they say, “ah, who now orders me to fight for the truth”, I want to tell them that if it’s really important and worthwhile for them, let them work hard to the end.

Q: how do you react when a positive person knows that he has not made a mistake?

A. It’s incredible. You don’t even know what to think. It’s like you’re on the phone now to tell her you’re charged with murder. What do you think?

P. In a statement, the IAAF said it was shocked by “the many reckless and groundless charges made by the judges.” the IAAF said the samples were considered by the judges to be untrustworthy.

A. I try to be neutral. When prosecutor Bramante asked judge Perino to close the case, IAAF and wfaf did not object… They had 20 days instead of two hours. Strange, isn’t it? [in the final report of the last trial meeting, they did demand that the proceedings continue and that Schwarzer be convicted].