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Banned skater Claudia Pechstein to miss Winter Olympics

25 November 09 15:37 GMT

One of Germany's favourites to win a medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics - speed skater Claudia Pechstein - has lost an appeal against a doping ban.

The five-time Olympic speed skating champion's two-year ban for blood doping was upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.

Pechstein has never failed a drugs test and denied doping but her blood showed abnormalities when tested.

She had hoped to be in Vancouver and win a medal in her fifth Games.

Pechstein is Germany's most successful Winter Olympian with nine medals.

The International Skating Union banned her for two years after blood samples taken at the World Allround Championships last season showed a high level of immature red blood cells or reticulocytes, suggesting she had had a transfusion.

She becomes the first athlete to be banned over screenings in her biological passport.

Pechstein was allowed to continue training but not allowed to compete. Her ban will run out in February 2011.

Her lawyer Simon Bergmann said she would take the case to the Swiss supreme court.

She said in a statement: "It's incredibly hard for me to accept it.

"After weeks of unworthy comings and goings the verdict was predictable. I am not shocked by the outcome but more by how it came about.

"It remains unimaginable for me how I could get banned for one single indication that is also very contested scientifically."

Pechstein won her first Olympic gold medal in the 5000m at Lillehammer in 1994, and took the same distance in Nagano in 1998 and Salt Lake City in 2002.

She also won the 3000m in Salt Lake City, and was part of Germany's winning team in the pursuit in Turin in 2006.

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