Speed skater Pechstein makes provisional Olympic squad

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.

Speed skater Pechstein makes provisional Olympic squad
Photo: DPA

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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Germany’s Interior Minister rules out ‘unthinkable’ bid to host 2036 Olympics

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has ruled out a bid to host the 2036 Olympics, saying in an interview that it would be "unthinkable" on the 100th anniversary of the Nazi-era 1936 Games in Berlin.

Germany's Interior Minister rules out 'unthinkable' bid to host 2036 Olympics
Interior Minister Horst Seehofer. Photo: DPA

Held three years before the outbreak of the Second World War, the 1936 games are widely remembered as a propaganda coup for Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime.

In March this year, Berlin's state minister of the interior Andreas Geisel faced heavy criticism after he appeared to suggest Berlin should bid for the 2036 Olympics in an interview with Tagesspiegel newspaper.

However, the 69-year-old Seehofer, whose ministry also holds the sports portfolio, said Germany could not be seen to celebrate the centenary of the Nazi-era Berlin Olympics.

“It would be unthinkable. If we did that, we would bring on an unspeakable international discussion and harm the Olympic idea,” he told Frankfurt-based newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) in an interview published on Monday.

“How would people see it across the world? Germany celebrating the 100-year anniversary of the Nazi Olympics? That cannot happen.”

Aside from concerns over associations with the Nazi regime, there is scant public support for hosting the Olympics in Germany.

READ ALSO: Interior Ministry begs for more cash after 'forgetting' landmark reunification celebration

Public referendums, in 2015 and 2013, rejected proposed Olympic bids to host the summer games in Hamburg and a winter edition in Munich respectively.

Seehofer said that he was generally in favour of a German Olympic bid, but voiced concern that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had become too focused on commercial success.

“In the eyes of the public, the IOC has wandered too far from its original idea and into commercialism,” he told the FAZ.

He called on the IOC to “de-commercialise” and said he had “a lot of sympathy” for the German Athletes' Commission, which last year demanded that the IOC share a quarter of its profits with Olympic participants.

By Kit Holden