Speed skater Pechstein makes provisional Olympic squad

Speed skater Pechstein makes provisional Olympic squad
Photo: DPA
The German Speed Skating Federation (DESG) on Friday included Claudia Pechstein in a provisional squad list for the German 2010 Winter Olympics team, despite her two-year suspension for doping.

Pechstein’s name was on a list of athletes handed to the Germany Olympic Committee by DESG president Gerd Heinze.

“We’re assuming that the Olympic committee can decide on individual cases until January 29, the deadline established by the International Olympic Committee,” Heinze told German news agency SID.

The German Olympic Committee is required to provide a definitive list of athletes going to Vancouver by Friday afternoon, but DESG have opted to give themselves room for manoeuvre in the hope that Pechstein’s appeal is upheld by a Swiss court.

The 37-year-old, five-time Olympic champion appealed to the Swiss Federal Court, the highest judicial authority in Switzerland, to challenge her suspension by the International Skating Union (ISU) last July on the basis of abnormalities in her blood passport.

The court ruled in December that Pechstein could participate in a World Cup event at Salt Lake City but she did not obtain the DESG’s minimum qualification requirement after finishing 13th in her preferred event, the 3,000 metres.

Pechstein, who has never failed a drugs test, has always maintained her innocence and claims that the abnormal readings in her biological passport occurred naturally.

Her suspension was nonetheless upheld in November by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne.

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