German rower who left London denies far-right ties

BERLIN Mon Aug 6, 2012 8:44am EDT

Germany's Nadja Drygalla prepares for a training session at Eton Dorney before the London 2012 Olympic Games July 25, 2012. REUTERS/Jim Young

Germany's Nadja Drygalla prepares for a training session at Eton Dorney before the London 2012 Olympic Games July 25, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Jim Young

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BERLIN (Reuters) - A German rower who quit the Olympic village last week has denied having far-right views and has said she helped to persuade her boyfriend to change his ways months ago.

German media had reported that Nadja Drygalla was suspected of far right-wing sympathies and that her boyfriend Michael Fischer, who stood in a regional election for the far-right NPD party in 2011, was a leading member of the "Rostock National Socialists".

"My boyfriend hasn't been a member of the NPD since May and has distanced himself from the whole thing," she told the German news agency DPA, also denying that he was a member of the Rostock group. "I thought the whole issue had blown over."

"It was a huge burden on our relationship," Drygalla said in what is believed to be her only interview since leaving London.

"And I made it clear to him in many discussions that I don't share his views and don't back them. We didn't have a very happy relationship when all that was going on."

While membership of the National Democratic Party (NPD) is not illegal, despite attempts to ban it, Germany's intelligence agency describes the party as racist, anti-Semitic and inspired by the Nazis, characteristics that contradict the Olympic Charter.

Drygalla's rowing eight had already been eliminated before the controversy blew up, and she said she herself had volunteered to leave the village.

"It was my decision," she said. "I wanted to prevent any distraction for those who still have to compete. I didn't want the commotion about me to distract others."

(Reporting by Erik Kirschbaum and Elisa Oddone; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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