German speedskater Pechstein cleared to race at Salt Lake City

9th December 2009, Comments 0 comments

The surprise decision came after a court upheld a two-year suspension against the five-time Olympic champion last month due to anomalies in her biological passport.

Berlin -- German speedskater Claudia Pechstein, banned for two years due to doping irregularities, was on Tuesday told by a Swiss Federal Court that she can compete in a World Cup event at Salt Lake City.

Last month, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld a two-year suspension against the five-time Olympic champion due to anomalies in her biological passport.

But Tuesday's decision by Switzerland's highest judicial authority gives the 37-year-old the opportunity to meet the qualifying mark for the Vancouver Winter Olympics in the 3,000 metres race at Salt Lake City on Friday.

Though she has been authorised to compete, CAS's decision has not been overturned so Pechstein would not be guaranteed a place in the German squad even if she does fulfil the qualifying criteria of a top-eight finish.

"For me, this authorisation to race is lie a small victory, because I did nothing wrong and I've always hoped that we'd get to this stage," Pechstein told the German news agency SID.

Pechstein has never failed a drugs test but CAS upheld the legality of her ban, which was imposed by the International Skating Union (ISU) last winter after her biological passport showed abnormal alterations in her blood profile.

Pechstein has vehemently disputed the case against her, claiming laboratory errors in the tests used to condemn her.

"Don't expect any miracles from me," Pechstein added.

"I've had to train for ten months in a state of incredible stress, but I want to qualify for the Olympic Games, I have only have one chance to do so and I hope to seize it."

The Winter Olympics run from February 12-28 in Vancouver.


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