Who is Alex Schwazer? True story behind Netflix's Running for My Truth
The Italian athlete opens up about his doping allegations in Netflix's Running for My Truth.
Netflix is diving into the world of doping with its latest docuseries Running for My Truth, which looks at the mighty fall of one of Italy's biggest athletes – and his attempts to return to the world of race-walking.
Olympic gold-medallist Alex Schwazer hit the headlines back in 2012 after testing positive for the blood-boosting hormone EPO prior to representing Italy at the London Olympics, resulting in a three-year ban from race-walking, and while he made a return to the sport in 2016, he was hit once again with doping allegations and a ban.
However, this time, he alleged that his sample had been tampered with and that he was innocent. "I did not dope," Schwazer is seen saying in the Netflix documentary's trailer. "Either someone gave me this substance in the days prior or the test was manipulated."
Per Netflix's description, Running for My Truth tracks Schwazer's career from "golden boy of Italian sport to national disappointment", his return to competition and the latest behind his most recent ban – but who is Alex Schwazer and where is he now?
Here's everything you need to know about the true story behind Netflix's latest sporting docuseries.
Who is Alex Schwazer?
Alex Schwazer is an Italian race walker and Olympic gold medallist who retired from the sport after being disqualified from the 2012 Olympic Games over doping offences.
Born in Sterzing, South Tyrol, Schwazer began his professional race walking career in 2005 after winning a bronze medal in the 50km race at the 2005 World Championships.
He went on to break several Italian records, winning the Gran Premio Città di Lugano in 2010 and the Memorial Mario Albisetto 20km walk in 2012, after picking up a gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2010 European Championships.
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The 38-year-old was due to compete in the 2012 Olympics 50km race walk, however he was disqualified from the London Games after the World Anti-Doping Agency found that his drugs test delivered "an adverse result".
"I made a mistake. My career is finished," Schwazer told Italian news agency Ansa (via Reuters) at the time. "I wanted to be stronger for this Olympics, I made a mistake."
The athlete was suspended for three years and nine months after failing the doping test and admitting to using the blood-boosting hormone EPO, resulting in the Italian Olympic Committee launching an investigation into the incident in 2014 as well as an eight-month suspended prison term and a €6,000 fine.
Schwazer returned to race walking in 2016, winning the 50km race at the World Championships in May. However, a month later, his doping sample from January was re-tested by the World Athletics organisation, which found traces of anabolic steroid testosterone and provisionally suspended Schwazer from competing for another eight years.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected his appeal for the suspension and said in a statement: "The CAS sanctioned him with an eight-year period of ineligibility starting on the date of today, less any period of provisional suspension effectively served as of 8 July 2016.
"All competitive results obtained by Alex Schwazer from and including 1 January 2016 are disqualified with all resulting consequences, including forfeiture of medals, points and prizes."
Schwazer claimed that he "didn't make any error", with his lawyer Gerhard Brandstaetter saying at the time: "It's strange. 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. We'll fight with all of our strength so that the truth comes out."
Schwazer always asserted his innocence and in February 2021, a Bolzano court ruled that it was "highly likely" that his samples had been interfered with to produce a positive test, claiming that Schwazer "did not commit the crime".
The World Anti-Doping Agency strongly hit back at the ruling by saying it was "appalled by the multiple reckless and groundless allegations made by the judge against the organisation and other parties to this case".
In April 2022, after seeking an expert opinion and further studies from the Athletics Integrity Unit, WADA confirmed its position that Schwazer's 1st January 2016 sample had not been subject to any form of manipulation.
Where is Alex Schwazer now?
After the Bolzano court's ruling, Schwazer sought to overturn his eight-year ban at the Swiss Federal Tribunal, however the appeal was rejected, with the court saying that "there [were] no conditions" for the disqualification's suspension.
Schwazer was therefore unable to take part in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics due to his ban still being in place.
Last year, Schwazer took his case to the European Court of Human Rights, arguing that he had not had the opportunity of a fair trial in the sports courts.
According to Play the Game, the filing passed the assessment under Article 27 of the ECHR and has been assigned a case number.
As of 12th April 2023, Schwazer's application to the European Court of Human Rights is still awaiting its first judicial decision.
Schwazer appears in Running for My Truth – Netflix's four-part documentary about his sporting controversies and the political-judicial cases behind his competition ban.