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Pechstein qualifies for World Cup in wake of doping ban

In her first competition after a two-year doping ban, Germany's Claudia Pechtstein clinched a spot at next week's Speed Skating World Cup. She may still be banned, however, from competing in the next Winter Olympics.

Claudia Pechstein skating

Pechstein can now compete for the first time in two years

Germany's Claudia Pechstein returned to competitive speed skating on Saturday, securing a spot at next week's Speed Skating World Cup in Salt Lake City. It was the five-time Olympic speed skating champion's first competition after a two-year ban for doping.

Pechstein comfortably qualified with a time of 4 minutes, 10.5 seconds on Saturday. The sport's governing body had set a 4:15 limit for the track in Erfurt, Germany.

The 38-year-old athlete has never failed a drugs test but was banned in 2009 for abnormal blood levels. She fought the ban, alleging that sample mix-ups or a hereditary anomaly could have been the cause.

Her last-ditch appeal to take part in the Vancouver Olympic Games last year was rejected and she now faces exclusion from the 2014 games in Sochi, Russia.

An International Olympic Committee regulation, known as the Osaka rule, says that any athlete banned from a sport for six months or longer is forbidden from taking part in the next Olympics.

Author: Holly Fox (AP, Reuters)
Editor: Kyle James

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