BERLIN (AP) The International Skating Union on Thursday blasted what it called a ”massive media campaign” by five-time Olympic speedskating champion Claudia Pechstein as she tries to clear her name of doping allegations and accused experts who spoke in her defense of being partial.
The ISU said it felt compelled to issue a statement because ”public opinion” has swung in Pechstein’s favor after a Munich appeals court in January ruled that she could go ahead with a lawsuit seeking damages from the governing body.
The ISU reiterated that the ruling had not cleared Pechstein of doping and it strongly questioned the validity of a report commissioned by the German National Olympic Committee (DOSB) that appears to cast doubt on the doping case.
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Pechstein, who never failed a drug test, received a two-year ban in 2009 because of irregular blood results. She has always denied doping accusations and insists her blood values are due to a genetic condition.
The ruling in Munich went against the Court of Arbitration for Sport and allowed Pechstein to proceed with a lawsuit demanding 4.4 million euros ($4.85 million) in compensation from the ISU for lost income during her suspension.
The ISU, which has lodged an appeal with the German Federal Court of Justice, said the independence of the DOSB’s expert commission ”can rightfully be put into question” because its chairman – Wolfgang Jelkmann – has testified on Pechstein’s behalf as her main expert.
”The ISU emphatically believes this person cannot possibly be considered impartial or neutral,” the statement said.
It said the commission’s opinions show ”scientific shortcomings” and reiterated that Pechstein refused the opportunity to undergo tests with neutral external experts for any possible blood disease or anomaly.
”The German experts now claim that Ms. Pechstein suffers from a certain inherited blood disease. They cannot agree on the exact type or name of the disease but state that this disease explains every one of Ms. Pechstein*s abnormal blood values in the past,” the ISU said. ”However, even these experts had to admit that the disease is in `a mild form.”’
The governing body suggested that even if a mild form of the genetic anomaly was established, it ”does not and cannot explain the previous significant peaks and excess of variation of the hematologic parameters of Ms. Pechstein obtained during the period 2007-09.”
The ISU added: ”The coincidence that Ms. Pechstein had her highest abnormal values frequently at exactly the time of the top world competitions is striking and remains without conclusive explanation by the DOSB commission.”
With a total of nine Olympic medals, Pechstein is Germany’s most decorated Winter Olympian.