Athletics: Schwazer's ban opens way for Rio Games

Italy's disgraced 2008 Olympic 50km walk champion Alex Schwazer can dream of a second gold in Rio in 2016 after on Tuesday receiving a three-and-a-half-year ban from the Italian anti-doping court for testing positive for EPO (erythropoietin) last July.

The 28-year-old - who was ruled out of defending his title last year in London because of the positive dope test - said he would appeal the decision, which was less than the four years the prosecution had demanded.

While the suspension will come to an end on June 30 2016, with the Games due to start on August 5, Schwazer said he was confident he would receive a reduced suspension on appeal.

"I am not thinking for the moment about when I return nor how," he said.

"I am confident the final suspension will be reduced.

"I was expecting a more clement punishment, I believe that I was pretty open after committing such a huge mistake (...) those who dope and say nothing get two years and me in contrast..."

Schwazer tested positive in a test carried out by the World Anti-Doping Agency while he was training for the Olympics in Oberstdorf, Germany.

A tearful Schwazer had given a press conference before the Olympics apologising for his error.