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Axelsson booted from Swedish national team after EPO admission

Former Alessio and Mercury pro Nicklas Axelsson has been thrown of the Swedish team after admitting to "knowingly" using the banned endurance drug EPO during the world road championships in Lisbon last month. Axelsson, who was riding for the Italian Alessio team, tested positive for erythropoietin (EPO) on the last day of the October 9-14 championships where he finished 18th in the men's road race. The 29-year-old rider, whose career highlights were a third place in the Tour of Lombardy one-day race and sixth overall in last year's Tour of Italy, admitted to a Swedish newspaper

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By VeloNews Interactive wire services, copyright AFP2001

Former Alessio and Mercury pro Nicklas Axelsson has been thrown of the Swedish team after admitting to “knowingly” using the banned endurance drug EPO during the world road championships in Lisbon last month.

Axelsson, who was riding for the Italian Alessio team, tested positive for erythropoietin (EPO) on the last day of the October 9-14 championships where he finished 18th in the men’s road race.

The 29-year-old rider, whose career highlights were a third place in the Tour of Lombardy one-day race and sixth overall in last year’s Tour of Italy, admitted to a Swedish newspaper Thursday that he had taken EPO and said he would be bringing an immediate end to his career.

“I took EPO and I took it knowingly. My career is over and I’m currently unemployed,” Axelsson revealed to Gothenburg-Posten.

Swedish cycling federation chief Hans Falk said Axelsson, who now risks a two-year ban from the sport, is off the national team no matter what his future plans.

The revelations came only days after Sweden was rocked by the news that Olympic and double world 110m hurdles champion Ludmila Engquist admitted using anabolic steroids as part of her preparations for the Swedish bobsleigh team. Engquist joined the bobsleigh team after ending her athletics career following the discovery of breast cancer.

copyright AFP2001