Official didn’t apologise to maligned speedskater

The vice president of the International Skating Union (ISU) has denied telling German speed skater Claudia Pechstein that he was sorry for her two-year suspension from competition that forced her to miss the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Official didn't apologise to maligned speedskater
Photo: DPA

Pechstein had told the German newspaper Die Welt that the official, Jan Dijkema, told her that, “he was very sorry about what happened and regrets it but he was unable to do anything about it.”

Pechstein was suspended from competition three years ago on allegations of blood doping based on circumstantial evidence, though she never had a positive test. The controversial ban forced her to miss the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. She returned to the speed skating circuit last year.

When asked about Pechstein’s statements Dijkema, an ISU official from the Netherlands, told the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf that they were “absurd” and that Pechstein’s statements were not true.

The news came as Pechstein lost her top position Saturday in the European Speed Skating Championship’s combined event. She is now fighting for a third place medal.

In the wind-plagued 1500-meter course in Hungary, where the competition is being held, Pechstein fell back to fourth, while defending champion Martina Sablikova, from the Czech Republic took over the top spot. She is seeking her fourth European title.

Holland’s Ireen Wüst was second. One event – the 5,000-meter – remains and is scheduled for Sunday.

The Local/DPA/mw

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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.