Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Five-Time Olympic Speedskating Champion Loses Blood-Doping Appeal

Germany’s most successful winter Olympian will miss the Vancouver Games. Claudia Pechstein, the five-time Olympic speedskating champion and winner of nine medals, lost her appeal against a two-year ban for blood doping. Interestingly, she never failed a drug test.
The punishment stems from blood samples taken at the World Allround Championships in Hamar, Norway, last season. Pechstein’s blood profile had included abnormal levels of immature red blood cells or reticulocytes, which the BBC reports suggest she had a blood tranfusion.
”It remains unimaginable for me how I could get banned for one single indication that is also very contested scientifically,” Pechstein said, according to the Associated Press.
But the Court of Arbitration for Sport, in issuing its delayed ruling, said Pechstein’s blood levels ”could not be reasonably explained by the various justifications submitted by the athlete nor by a congenital medical condition.”
The 66-page C.A.S. ruling (a full version can be downloaded here) indicated the panel could not find any signs of blood disease or anomalies that would account for the unusual levels.
”The panel finds that they must, therefore, derive from the athlete’s illicit manipulation of her own blood, which remains the only reasonable alternative source of such abnormal values.”
In rejecting Pechstein’s appeal, the court set her suspension date at February 8, 2009, meaning she will not be able to compete until February 2011, quite possibly ending the 37-year-old Pechstein’s skating career. Her lawyer said he would take Pechstein’s case to the Swiss supreme court.Read More.......


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