Pechstein clinches World Cup spot
Five-times Olympic speed skating champion Claudia Pechstein has clinched a spot at next week's World Cup event in Salt Lake City in her first competition after a two-year doping ban.
The German, who was banned in 2009 after a series of blood tests revealed abnormal levels, comfortably beat the qualifying time of four minutes 15 seconds over the 3,000 metres distance at a minor meeting in Erfurt.
The speed skater, her country's most successful Winter Olympian with five golds, two silvers and two bronze medals, also wants to gain eligibility for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Under an International Olympic Committee rule, known as the "Osaka rule", an athlete who has been banned for six months or longer over doping rule violations is automatically ruled out of the next Games.
But she has said she will battle to compete at her sixth Olympic Games after missing out on Vancouver 2010 Olympics. The IOC has confirmed Osaka rule applied to Pechstein.
The 38-year-old veteran was banned by the ISU in July 2009 backdated to February that year. She has never failed a drugs test.
She has said the blood levels were a result of testing mistakes and sample mixups.
On the eve of the Vancouver Games last year, Pechstein failed in her last-ditch attempt to take part in her sixth successive Games when her appeal was rejected.