Italy's Champion of Funny Looking Sport Banned for Doping

Today was a tough one for Olympians. First, American Judo person Nick Delpopolo accidentally ate some pot brownies and got the boot. Then news breaks that a U.S. rower had a boner during his recent medal ceremony. Now comes word that Italy's national hero and walking champion Alex Schwazer was banned from the Olympics today after he failed a drug test. The illegal substance was not disclosed.

Walking is, according to most experts, the toughest sport in the Olympics. The rules are as follows:

Race walking is an event contested in all levels of the sport of track & field, from youth athletics up to and including the Olympic Games. A technically demanding event, race walking is continuing to grow in popularity across all age groups for its fitness and competitive aspects.

Race walking differs from running in that it requires the competitor to maintain contact with the ground and straighten their front knee when the foot makes contact with the ground, keeping it straightened until the knee passes under the body. Judges evaluate the technique of race walkers and report fouls which may lead to disqualification. All judging is done by the eye of the judge and no outside technology is used in making judging decisions.

But, as the BBC notes, Alex Schwazer has a history of overcoming obstacles both major and minor:

Schwazer was also entered in the 20km walk, but withdrew last month, citing a cold.

Schwazer did set Olympic and world records for walking at the Beijing Olympics, so there's that.

And, in case you're not familiar with the sport, here's a video of people walking very quickly in a race somewhere.

[Image via AP]