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Wednesday, 1 December, 1999, 11:18 GMT
Arnie wins 'diagnosis' damages
Arnold Schwarzenegger was never examined by Dr Heepe

Hollywood hardman Arnold Schwarzenegger has won 6,564 ($10,500) in damages from a German heart specialist after he predicted the bodybuilder-turned-movie star did not have much longer to live.

A Berlin court ordered Dr Willi Heepe - who is also a sports doctor - to compensate the actor for causing him unnecessary suffering and to retract his 1998 prophesy.

Heepe made the comment about Schwarzenegger's fate while discussing the connection between anabolic steroids and heart disease on German radio.

The interview followed the September 1998 sudden heart seizure and death of Olympic champion sprinter Florence Griffith Joyner.

Cult of the body

Although the doctor later apologised for his remark in an exchange of letters with the Austrian actor's lawyers, he would not sign a statement they had drafted.

His refusal to put his name to the document led to Tuesday's hearing. In court, Heepe's lawyers said that their client had named Schwarzenegger simply as a "symbol of the cult surrounding the body".

They added that it was well known that the actor had undergone heart surgery in 1997.

As counter argument, Schwarzenegger's lawyers accused Heepe of "stubbornness". They also argued that even the famous had a right to protection from speculative medical diagnosis from afar.

The civil court agreed and ordered Heepe to retract his comment, never repeat it and also make it public that he had never examined the actor.

This is not the first time Schwarzenegger, who's 52, has challenged those doubting the state of his health. He is also involved in a lawsuit against US newspaper The Globe, suing it for 35m for calling his heart a "ticking time bomb".

Troubled heart history

He underwent elective surgery in April 1997 to repair a defective heart valve. But he has admitted using drugs in support of his body-building.

Although not present at the one-day trial, he was in Germany earlier this week to promote the opening of his new film End of Days. He attends the movie's premiere in London on Wednesday.

The millennial thriller marks Schwarzenegger's return to the cinema after a two-year break. He is reported to be planning three more films next year, including a sequel to his 1994 success True Lies.

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See also:
04 Sep 98 |  Roundup
Arnie files $50m libel lawsuit

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