Associated press broke the news today that German speedskater Claudia Pechstein has lost the fight to clear her name against the International Skating Union’s drug ban and claim damages for lost earnings. After seven years of legal battles, her latest attempt has bombed out. In January 2015, she had pinned her hopes on seeking damages from the ISU over their controversial banning of her for drugs in 2009. Although she never failed a drugs test, she was one of the first athletes to be banned on a biological passport. Following testing for drugs “12 times in the first quarter of 2009,” BBC Sports reported that the scientific case was complicated but broke it down as basically meaning that “she was either doping or she was unwell.”

Record-breaking skater.

Claudia was an exceptionally good skater and has five Olympic gold medals under her belt.

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The record-breaker won medals in five consecutive Olympic games between 1992 and 2006. Her last Olympic medal came in 2006 at the winter games in Turin. With the ban in place, she was unable to compete in the 2010 Vancouver Games, but she came back to the sport in 2011 and won a bronze medal in the 5,000m race at the 2011 World Championships. She later competed at Sochi where she came 4th in the 3,000m event.

Still fighting after ban ended.

Following her first ban, she fought back in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), claiming a blood condition that she inherited from her Father. Experts failed to substantiate her claims initially, but in further CAS appeals, experts did corroborate her claim. Nevertheless, she lost her appeals and all her attempts through 2010 to clear her name. She was still fighting when her two-year ban ended in 2011.

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Ironically, when she was allowed to skate and won bronze medals at the 2011 World Championships, she claimed her blood readings were the same as always. “It’s crazy," she told a news conference, “So I am not a doper now?”

Nervous breakdown.

The drugs case very nearly ended her career as a Police officer and eventually the stress of it all caused her to suffer from a nervous breakdown. She had been through many appeals, such as her failed attempt to get a temporary lift on her ban for the Olympics via the Swiss Federal Supreme Court. She also fought for a last minute appeal, which was refused by CAS, to be admitted to the ice skating team events. Close on the heels of this, she was filing a criminal case of trial fraud against the ISU and coping with an appeal on new evidence that she suffers from a blood disorder. On top of this, she was facing a disciplinary hearing through her place of employment with the German Federal Police. Although this was eventually dropped, it was too much for her to cope with and she broke down in September 2010, the same month that the final rejection of her appeals came from the Swiss Federal Supreme Court.

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Chance for compensation.

Inside The Games, reported in January last year that she managed to gain the opportunity to get a proper chanced to clear her name when her case was overturned by the Higher Regional Court in Munich. The court found that the "arbitration agreement in dispute is invalid because it violates mandatory antitrust law". The court findings also stated that they could not “accept the verdict of the Court of Arbitration for Sport".

Lost case in favour of ISU.

Vindicated to a large degree for the bad times she had suffered, the damage to her personal reputation and the stress she had been through, Claudia vowed to sue for damages from lost revenue. Her case was before the German Federal Court which has now ruled against her damages claim against the ISU, who must be feeling some relief. If the ruling had gone the other way, it would have set a dangerous precedent for other claims from athletes against the ISU.

It is too early for the media to garner too much from Claudia, and her official twitter page has only one post, which can be translated to say “I have not doped!”

#Lawsuit #Athletics