Skater Pechstein blames testers, ISU for two-year ban
Berlin: Banned Olympic speed skating champion Claudia Pechstein blamed testing mistakes and sample mix-ups on Thursday for her abnormal blood values that could bar her from competing at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Flanked by her manager and her lawyer, the five-times Olympic gold medallist spoke only briefly during an elaborate press conference that included video projections of documents and minute details of test results and procedures.
The International Skating Union (ISU) last month said the German's blood profile had included abnormal values in a series of tests, in particular during February's world all-round championships and the sport's governing body imposed a two-year ban, back-dated to Feb. 9 this year.
She has since appealed against it.
"I was only tested four times between then and now," said a stern-looking Pechstein, with her manager Ralf Grengel adding someone suspected of using banned substances should have been tested many more times.
Grengel said barcode numbers on samples were suspect, results in laboratories showed different measurements of the same sample and other testing procedures were not conducted correctly.
"It shows that the ISU has repeatedly been sloppy in this case," said Grengel after showing two different barcode numbers that allegedly belonged to the same sample. "How is this possible," he said, adding many of the barcode numbers of samples used by the ISU as evidence to hand down the ban did not match.
The 37-year-old Pechstein, a very popular athlete in Germany alongside fellow skater Anni Friesinger, is hoping next year to compete at her sixth successive Winter Games.