BEIJING : Germany’s record Winter Olympics medallist Claudia Pechstein, who was banned for doping in the past, and bobsledder Francesco Friedrich will carry their country’s flag at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Games, the team said on Thursday.
Pechstein, a 49-year-old speedskater who will be competing in her eighth Olympics having won a German Winter Games record of nine medals, including five golds, has had a remarkably resilient Olympic career starting in 1992.
She won medals in her first five Olympics but was banned for two years by the International Skating Union in 2009 over abnormal blood levels, forcing her to miss the Vancouver 2010 Games despite her last-gasp legal efforts to have the ruling overturned.
The ISU had said at the time that the values were indicative of doping use.
Having never failed a doping test, Pechstein, a police officer, had insisted at the time, providing extensive scientific data, that she had a hereditary blood condition that her father also had.
She battled back, however, competing in the 2014 Sochi Olympics, where she narrowly missed out on medals in the 3,000m and 5,000m, and at the Pyeongchang Games four years later.
Friedrich, competing in his third Games, is a double gold medallist in the two- and four-man competition from Pyeongchang.
The Beijing Games officially get under way on Friday with the opening ceremony.