A"Concern for the survival" of the German speed skating community (DESG) has called a group around athlete spokesman Moritz Geisreiter for dialogue between all parties involved. The aim is to create a "future committee" under the motto "DESG – save together". The signatories explicitly invite the five-time Olympic champion Claudia Pechstein and her partner, Matthias Große, both of whom had been at the center of an escalating dispute over the orientation of the association in recent days.
"The sometimes strongly disturbed relationship between members, association leaders, athletes, coaches and outsiders" paralyzes the DESG and hinder the concentration of athletes on the season started. The initiative now aims to make the public perception of the sport more positive again and to subject the financial situation of the association to a transparent analysis. In order to trigger necessary change processes, "unpleasant and uncomfortable topics" should also be addressed.
"I think it's positive when members are thinking about the future of the association," said DESG Vice President Uwe Rietzke, who is currently leading the way with Treasurer Dieter Wallisch after the resignation of President Stefanie Teeuwen as a transitional double top. "However, I would not have liked to discuss the problems in public in this way."
The spokesman of the initiative, Rainer Erdmann from Berlin, called the motivation for the advance: "We want to pass from criticizing to positive action. The enthusiasm among the athletes "was great. Great willingness signaled: "We were the first to address the grievances, so we are pleased about this initiative. It shows how great the displeasure with the DESG leadership is. "
The already troubled DESG has turbulent days behind it, after Teeuwen's resignation in early November, a public debate about her succession flared up. In the course of this, Pechstein offensively brought Big as new president into play. A few days later, the DESG ruled out this because of "partially improper and association-damaging media statements" from the staff of the national team. Pechstein had then made a sweeping strike against the Association, denounced maladministration and accused the DESG of "deliberate damage" to their athletic path and environment.
The seriousness of the situation is now also clear with regard to the supporters of the "Zukunftsgremium": These include representatives of the three most important German speed skating bases Erfurt, Berlin and Inzell, which are usually in competition with each other.
Also sporty, the season was disappointing. At the World Cup opener in Minsk last weekend, the DESG took only a top 10 finish on the individual routes: Pechstein was ninth in the mass start.
Meanwhile, Olympic champion Anni Friesinger-Postma sees the crisis as self-inflicted. "At that time, you just rested on your laurels and overslept your time," said the 42-year-old "Sport Bild". "The Dutch used the inliners and short trackers much earlier to become successful speed skaters."
Friesinger-Postma could not resist a point against her former rival Pechstein. So the association now has a program to return to the top of the world. "If the program does not fit with Claudia, she has to find her own team. It was the same with me then. Every year, I paid 100,000 euros through sponsors for my own team. It's just that, if you want to succeed. "
Claudia Pechstein (t) Matthias Große (t) Stefanie Teeuwen (t) Moritz Geisreiter (t) Uwe Rietzke (t) Dieter Wallisch (t) DESG