Claudia Pechstein qualifies for race

Updated: February 12, 2011, 6:14 PM ET
Associated Press

ERFURT, Germany -- Five-time Olympic speedskating champion Claudia Pechstein marked her return from a two-year doping ban by qualifying for the Speed Skating World Cup in Salt Lake City.

Pechstein posted a time of 4 minutes, 10.05 seconds Saturday in the 3,000 meters at an event in Erfurt, Germany. It was under the 4:15 limit set by the sport's governing body.

The 38-year-old athlete thanked the organizers for providing a fast track. Some 1,500 fans welcomed her to the arena with a banner saying, "Great that you're back Claudi!"

Later Saturday, Pechstein clocked 2:1.22 in the 1,500 meters, under the 2:03.5 limit set by the International Speedskating Union.

Pechstein was racing for the first time in 14 months since she was banned for abnormal blood levels. She has denied doping and never failed a drug test.

She says a hereditary anomaly was responsible for the abnormal blood levels.


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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