Just days before the Winter Olympics kick off in Vancouver, the German skeleton team has defended the legitimacy of its sled amidst accusations from a Canadian athlete that the equipment gives them an unfair advantage.
Canada's Jeff Pain says the German sled is illegal
The German skeleton team rejected accusations of cheating on Wednesday after Canada's Olympic skeleton silver medalist Jeff Pain suggested that an electro-magnetic material in the German sleds was giving the team an advantage.
"The German team has been tested the most this winter by the authorities," said Margit Denglar-Paar, spokeswoman for the German team. "The thing is we're really fast so other countries accuse us of maybe having something that doesn't adhere to the rules."
Earlier on Wednesday, Pain held a press conference in Whistler, Canada, to express his concern about the legality of the German sleds. "I know for a fact that they have an electro-magnetic component in their sleds," he told journalists.
"I don't know 100 percent how they use it. My belief is they are creating a magnetic field that provides damping, like shock absorbing." According to Pain, such a magnetic field would be illegal. He wants the German sleds to be checked again by officials.
But spokeswoman Denglar-Paar isn't worried. "This season the sleds were taken apart by the materials commission (at FIBT, the sport's governing body) and the 'hearts and kidneys' examined and nothing was found. We're very relaxed about these accusations."
Germany's Frank Rommel and Sandro Stielecke are currently ranked second and third in the world, respectively, while Pain, who won the silver medal in Turin four years ago, is ranked 10th.
The six German skeleton athletes - three male and three female - are set to arrive in Whistler on Thursday, where on February 18 the heats for the men's event are scheduled to begin.
Editor: Andreas Illmer