LONDON - A miracle happened the other day.
An athlete who tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug admitted he was guilty. As I said, a miracle.
Alex Schwazer, an Italian race walker (yes, a race walker), said he had bought EPO, a blood booster, during a trip to Turkey in September, then hid the drug from his girlfriend, figure skater Carolina Kostner, by putting it in a box of vitamins.
He won gold in the 50-kilometer walk in Beijing four years ago and had been favored to win again here. But he said he was tired of living a lie and actually wanted to get caught during a July 30th drug test.
"I'm not made to take drugs or to deceive people, and I couldn't take it anymore,'' a tearful Schwazer told reporters in Italy on Wednesday. "I couldn't wait for the whole thing to end.
"When on the 30th the doorbell rang, I knew it was the anti-doping people. I knew it was all over. It would have been enough to tell my mother not to open the door or to tell them I wasn't home, but I couldn't take it anymore.''
We Americans are used to weak defenses: Somebody spiked my Gatorade. Somebody tampered with my urine sample. The lab mistook my sample for someone else's. I didn't know the brownies had marijuana in them.
But here we have someone who is honest and contrite. Can you imagine the good will it would have engendered had Mark McGwire taken the same approach? He and all the others would have found a much more forgiving public. But something tells me Schwazer's is a one-time miracle.