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Posted: Feb 16, 2:08a ET | Updated: Feb 17, 7:59a ET

Stasi past still overshadows German coach

Vancouver (AFP) As Germany's Aliona Savchenkoand Robin Szolkowyclaimed bronze in the Olympic pairs figure skating on Monday, few would have recognised the man by their side as they waited for their scores.

But their coach at the Olympic rink was none other than Ingo Steuer, one of the most controversial figures of the 2010 Games.

Steuer was a teenage informer for the former East Germany secret police, the Stasi, passing information on his fellow skaters.

But on Monday the world saw a more relaxed Steuer rink-side in Vancouver as the German couple finished third in the pairs figure skating.

"These are totally different circumstances than in Torino," said the 43-year-old coach.

News of his Stasi past broke just before the 2006 Games resulting in the German Olympic Committee dropping Steuer from the delegation.

Documents showed he had been in the pay of the Stasi for four years and tipped them off that a fellow skater was about to defect, and also provided information about two-time Olympic champion Katarina Witt's love life.

He won an injunction allowing to travel to Turin, although he was not allowed to wear German team clothes or be part of the delegation.

This time the situation is different, Steuer has had his travel and accommodation paid for by the German Olympic Committee.

"I'm proud to wear the German clothes here," said Steuer, who claims he was young and naive at the time and has promised to give his side of the story in his book, Ice Age, which will be published later this year.

His association with the German couple may soon be coming to an end as German sporting bodies are not allowed to pay anyone with links to the former communist regime.

Steuer does however receive money from Savchenko and Szolkowy, who themselves receive government funding, and is coach to other skaters of other nationalities competing in Vancouver.

But he says that he is reluctant to continue under the present situation.

"The season is not finished yet, we'll talk about it after the world championships," said Steuer, the 1997 world pairs champion and bronze medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics, who has guided Savchenko and Szolkowy to two world and three European championships.

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