Switzerland’s former road cycling world champion, Oscar Camenzind, has announced his retirement from the sport after testing positive to a banned drug.
He apologised for his conduct, saying he had started taking the performance-enhancing drug, EPO, after falling ill.
“There is really no excuse. I would like to apologise for my conduct to my team, to the young riders who saw me as a role model, and to all my fans,” Camenzind said in a statement on his website.
On Monday Camenzind pulled out of the Olympic Games in Athens after Swiss anti-doping experts found traces of EPO in his urine.
His professional team, Phonak, also terminated his contract with immediate effect.
The 32-year old Camenzind, who was road cycling world champion in 1998, said he started taking drugs after an attack of mononucleosis – a form of glandular fever – two years ago.
He said that when he recovered he found that he was not as fast as he used to be.
“I wanted to prove to myself, to the fans, and also the team, that I was still capable of outstanding performances,” said Camenzind.
“Now I have lost the chance of competing in Athens and in the autumn races, and on top of that, I chose the most stupid way of all to achieve good results,” he added.
Camenzind said he was aware of the risk he was taking because he had been tested often during his nine-year career as a professional.
He added that Monday’s publication of his positive doping test came almost as a relief.
Switzerland’s Cycling Association has decided to send Grégory Rast to the Games to replace Camenzind.
The Swiss cyclist’s case was one of six doping scandals to hit the Olympics ahead of Friday’s opening ceremony, sparking a furious response from Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
“I’m angry with those few people… because their conduct has tarnished the image of a beautiful movement… the movement of amateur sports,” Rogge said in a speech to IOC members in Athens.
swissinfo with agencies
Swiss rider Oscar Camenzind has quit competitive sports after testing positive for the banned drug, EPO.
The former world champion apologised to his Phonak cycling team and his fans for his conduct.
On Monday Camenzind withdrew from the Olympic Games and he was also fired by Phonak.