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Germany allows former Stasi spy to head its Olympic team

Ingo Steuer, 39, who skated for united Germany in two Olympic Games and coached his country's Turin skating hopefuls, was unmasked four days ago as one of the thousands of former East Germans who worked as Stasi informers.

Details of his police file showed that during the late 1980s he was an enthusiastic spy in a sporting world riddled with informers. Codenamed "Torsten", he reported on confidential discussions with athletes and tipped off the Stasi about an ice skater who was considering defecting to France.

The scandal prompted Germany's National Olympic Committee (NOC) to remove Mr Steuer from the official delegation attending the Turin games. But a Berlin court yesterday dismissed the ban, leaving Mr Steuer free to travel to Turin as personal coach to Ajjona Savtschenko and Robin Szolkovy.

The court upheld an injunction Mr Steuer had taken out against the NOC's ban. Judges argued that the NOC had failed to fully question him about his Stasi activities and had simply taken the contents of his file as proof of his complicity. The court also ruled that the NOC had failed to provide sufficient legal documentation to support its case.

NOC officials said they were shocked by the decision and would appeal against the ruling. "We shall be taking legal steps to overturn the court's ruling," said Bernhard Schwank, the NOC's general secretary.

The NOC has also banned the ski-jump trainer Henry Glass and the sports analyst Hans Hartlieb from joining the Turin delegation after they were found to have Stasi connections.