Speed skater Pechstein set on Olympics despite doping ban

German speed skater Claudia Pechstein has said she is determined to compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi, although technically she remains banned after serving a two-year suspension for doping.

Speed skater Pechstein set on Olympics despite doping ban
Photo: DPA

Under International Olympic Committee (IOC) rules, an athlete who has served a ban of longer than six months for doping is automatically banned from the next Winter Games.

The Committee has confirmed that this rule, known as the Osaka rule, applies in Pechstein’s case.

But Pechstein said Tuesday she does not accept the extended suspension.

“My comeback is not limited to this season, and they want to deprive me of the 2014 Games. But I am going to fight to win a tenth Olympic medal at the next Games,” vowed Pechstein, Germany’s most-decorated Winter athlete with five titles as well as two silvers and a pair of bronze medals.

Pechstein recently completed a two-year ban after a hematocritic blood test, which measures the ratio of white blood cells in a person’s blood stream, showed abnormal readings.

She continues to vehemently deny any wrongdoing.

Pechstein says she has enlisted the support of hematologists to send the IOC a report which apparently shows that she suffers from a congenital blood abnormality that could have produced false readings.

Pechstein added she has asked the International Skating Union to be exempted from renewed suspension if her irregular hematocritic values are indeed found to be the result of a congenital abnormality, or, failing that, she would bring her case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Pechstein, 38, was the first top level athlete to be banned on the basis of anomalies in her biological passport, a blood-testing method introduced to quell doping in sports.

She said the whole affair has been “a nightmare.”

This weekend, Pechstein will skate competitively for the first time since her suspension in the central German town of Erfurt, as she bids to qualify for the world championships in the town of Inzell in the German Alps.

AFP/The Local/adn

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Nurse weeps as tells German court of her blood doping role

A nurse, one of the co-defendants in the trial of a German sports doctor accused of masterminding an international blood-doping network, described on Friday how she helped athletes dope with illicit blood transfusions.

Nurse weeps as tells German court of her blood doping role
Mark Schmidt talks to his lawyer in court. Photo: Peter Kneffel/AFP
Sports physician Mark Schmidt, 42, and four co-defendants who allegedly aided him, stand trial in Munich accused of helping at least two dozen athletes undergo blood transfusions to boost performance.
So far, 23 athletes — mainly skiers and cyclists — from eight countries are known to be involved.
If found guilty, Schmidt and his co-defendants face jail for up to 10 years under anti-doping legislation introduced in Germany in 2015.
One of the accused, named only as Diana S., told the court how she first helped Schmidt in December 2017 when she travelled to Dobbiaco, Italy, to administer a blood transfusion before a skiing competition.
Blood doping is aimed at boosting the number of red blood cells, which allows the body to transport more oxygen to muscles, thereby increasing stamina and performance.
“It was about transportation, blood and athletes, but at first I didn't know what was behind it,” she is quoted as saying by the German media.   
“The treatments were always such that before the race the blood was taken in and after the races, the blood came out.”
She claimed to have been given precise instructions “via WhatsApp or by phone calls” where to go, which car to take, who to treat and how much blood to take or inject.
The trained nurse, who often sobbed while speaking, was told to dispose the bags of used blood on her way home after the “treatments”.
The single mother of three said she was motivated to earn extra money, having been told she would earn 200 euros ($237) per day.
At one point, she claims she told Schmidt that she wanted to stop.
“I told him that I was too agitated and too scared” to keep doing the clandestine work, because a sense of “panic travelled with me”, but Schmidt convinced her to stay involved. “It is also true that I simply had a shortage of money.”
Schmidt is alleged to have helped skiers who competed at both the 2014 and 2018 Winter Olympics and cyclists who raced at the 2016 Rio summer Olympics, as well as the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a Espana.
He was arrested in Germany as part of Operation “Aderlass” — or “blood letting” in German — which involved raids at the Nordic world skiing championships in Seefeld, Austria in February 2019.
A verdict in the trial is expected by late December.