Fueled by anger, Pechstein is not done at 41

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 7, 2014 at 7:58 am •  Published: February 7, 2014
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SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Anger is her energy.

It has kept Claudia Pechstein skating until 41 and right into the Sochi Games. Now, the German is setting off for her 10th Olympic medal, and with a good chance to make it golden.

She missed the 2010 Vancouver Games because of a contested doping suspension, imposed because of suspicious blood levels but without a positive test. That gave her the motivation to keep going for another four years.

On Sunday, she is among the favorites in the 3,000 meters and also is expected to challenge for gold in team pursuit and the 5,000.

"Itching to go," she said about the anticipation for a sixth Olympic gold medal. She showed what she might be capable of last week when she beat favorite Ireen Wust of the Netherlands in a pre-Olympic test race.

Pechstein's Olympic endurance stretches back more than two decades, from the sloshy outdoor oval at the 1992 Albertville Games, where she won the 5,000 bronze medal, to the high-tech indoor Adler Arena on the Black Sea in Sochi.

She might have been done with the Olympics four years ago had she escaped the two-year ban.

She was near the end of a career in which she was nicknamed "Goldstein" and never had a positive drug test. But the International Skating Union said her blood profile at the 2009 Allround World Championships showed abnormal cell readings, and a suspension followed.

Backed by some German doctors, she said a hereditary anomaly was responsible for the test.

From then on, it was a fight laced with anger, stress and frustration. She went to sports' highest court, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, only to be denied reinstatement for Vancouver.

With her suspension completed, she returned to skating two years ago and vowed to clear her name. She brought a civil case for damages against the ISU last year.