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German rower quits over 'neo-Nazi' boyfriend

The athlete affirmed her commitment to the “Olympic ideals” but quit the Olympic village so ‘as not to be a burden on the team’.

Nadja Drygalla, fourth from the right, during an event last this week.
Nadja Drygalla, fourth from the right, during an event last this week.
Image: (AP Photo/Armando Franca)

GERMAN ROWER Nadja Drygalla is to leave the Olympic village in London, the country’s Olympic committee said today, after press reports that her boyfriend was a member of a far-right group.

“Today the management of the German Olympic committee received information about the private associates of the rower Nadja Drygalla,” the head of the delegation Michael Vesper said in a statement.

Rowing officials spoke to the athlete, who affirmed her commitment to the “Olympic ideals” but at the same time revealed that she “planned to quit the Olympic village so as not to be a burden on the team”, Vesper added. According to the German media, the rower is the girlfriend of a regional official of the NPD, an openly neo-Nazi political movement in the northern city of Rostock.

One local radio station, NDR, added that he was a regular contributor to the movement’s Internet site and he belonged to a group called “National Socialist Rostock”.

No doubts

Vesper reiterated at a news conference in London today that he had “no doubts” that the sportswoman “respected the fundamental values of the (German) constitution and the Olympic values” and in theory was not at risk of any sanction.

“If she confirms that she has nothing to do with (the far-right), why shouldn’t she continue (to compete for Germany)?” he said. ”We shouldn’t condemn her in advance. For us, there has never been any indication to make us think that these accusations are true. In Germany, thankfully, you’re only responsible for your own actions, not the company you keep.”

Drygalla, 23, was a member of the German eight but the team was eliminated in the repechage stage. Her relationship with the far-right militant was already known, according to German media, as it was the reason for her resignation from the police service last year.

Since the start of the Olympics in London, the Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou and the Swiss footballer Michel Morganella were both sent home by their Olympic committees following racist posts on Twitter.

- © AFP, 2012

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