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Wednesday, 12 January, 2000, 15:57 GMT
Sports doctor doped swimmers

swimmers Former East German swimmers gather for the hearing

The former chief doctor of East Germany's swimming team has been convicted of giving performance-enhancing drugs to young athletes without telling them.

He was convicted on more than 50 charges of causing bodily harm by giving them steroids.

Lothar Kipke Lothar Kipke: Admits doping athletes
Two former swimming champions say the drugs led to birth defects among their children.

Lothar Kipke, 72, was fined 7,500 German marks ($3,900) and given a 15-month suspended jail sentence.

Judge Peter Faust said Kipke had played a key role in the East German system to give swimmers steroids in order to boost their performance, and that he knew the drugs' harmful side effects.

The doctor admitted that he had provided the drugs - a widespread practice in communist East German sport - but he said that in the 1970s, little was known about their potential side-effects.

Prosecutors said that neither the swimmers nor their parents were told about the drugs and were therefore unaware that they might suffer side-effects.

The women involved in the case are now suffering from such problems as disturbed muscle growth, excessive body hair and a deepened voice.

One female swimmer is also pursuing her own case against Dr Kipke that is being handled at the same time.

Disabled children

Two former East German swimming champions blame their babies' disabilities on the steroids. One has a daughter who was born blind, the other a son with a club foot.

They say Dr Kipke continued to give them drugs despite knowing the potential consequences.

BBC Berlin Correspondent Caroline Wyatt says the trial was the latest in a series of attempts by united Germany to deal with the tainted sporting legacy of the Communist past.

The former national women's swimming team coach confessed at his trial in 1998 that he secretly gave his athletes banned performance enhancing drugs.

Other former East German sports officials have also admitted giving their athletes drugs and been forced to pay thousands of dollars in fines

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See also:
09 Sep 99 |  Europe
Doping charges catch up with communist officials
26 Jan 99 |  Medical notes
Doping: Banned substances
06 Jan 00 |  Sport
New tests for Chinese swimmers
05 Aug 99 |  Medical notes
Nandrolone and anabolic steroids
20 Aug 98 |  Sport
East German officials fined for doping

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