Norway’s suspended race walker fears bankruptcy

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Erik Tysse, Norway’s Olympic race walker, says he now fears personal bankruptcy after being suspended from all competition on doping charges. He claims he’s innocent and suggests he’s the victim of sabotage.

BEIJING - AUGUST 16:  Erik Tysse of Norway competes in the Men's 20km Walk Final at the National Stadium on Day 8 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 16, 2008 in Beijing, China.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Tysse told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Wednesday that in addition to a ruined reputation he now worries he’ll go bankrupt. His suspension comes just days before he was to represent Norway at the European Championships in Barcelona, where he was a medal candidate.

Norway’s athletics association (Norges Friidrettsforbund) had no choice but to suspend him immediately, after he tested positive for the forbidden substance CERA in blood tests taken at the recent Race Walking Challenge in Sesto San Giovanni near Milan in Italy. (PicApp photo taken at the Olympics in Beijing.)

Both his A and B tests were analyzed at the same laboratory in Rome, showing the same result. Tysse claimed he can’t understand how CERA, which can send more oxygen from the lungs to muscles and thereby boost endurance, could have entered his bloodstream.

“I have a completely clear conscience,” he told reporters in Oslo on Tuesday. “I haven’t done this.”

Tysse, who noted that he has been a strong advocate of anti-doping efforts,
 also said that he “won’t rule out that I’m a victim of sabotage.”

The 29-year-old race walker from Søftedal outside Bergen is the younger brother of race walker Kjersti Tysse Plätzer, who won two silver medals at the Olympics in Beijing, and has been coached by her husband Stephan Plätzer. Newspaper Aftenposten noted on Wednesday that Plätzer has often raised the possibility of doping when competitors perform over expectations. Now he’s directly involved in a doping case himself.

Dr Helge Oftebro and attorney Gunnar Martin Kjenner have been hired by Tysse in an effort to clear his name, and both claim there are flaws in the test that revealed the banned substance in his blood. Their fees, though, contribute to Tysse’s bankruptcy fears.

“I feel like the whole world has crashed down around me,” Tysse said. “My life foundation has crumbled. This is extremely difficult for myself and my family.”

Ronny Nilsen of the athletics association called the case “very sad” and claimed the association thought it was doing a good job fighting doping in sports.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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