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Tuesday, 2 May, 2000, 11:13 GMT 12:13 UK
Doping scandal reaches court

The trial of two former senior East German sports officials accused of doping athletes during the Communist era opened in Berlin on Tuesday.

The men allegedly ran a secret programme that systematically pumped athletes with performance-enhancing but potentially dangerous drugs during the 1970s and 1980s.

Manfred Ewald
Manfred Ewald allegedly organised the doping programme
Prosecutors claim Manfred Ewald, the long-serving East German sports chief, organised the state-sponsored programme that doped young female athletes, often without their consent or knowledge.

Many of the athletes were still minors.

Also on trial is his former medical director Dr Manfred Hoeppner who allegedly had links with the East German secret police, the Stasi.

Dr Hoeppner has admitted his part in the programme but Mr Ewald is contesting the charges.

The court could emerge with a verdict as early as Tuesday afternoon.

Male characteristics

According to the indictment, both men are charged with the "bodily harm" of 142 women who suffered side-effects from taking anabolic steriods.

The side-effects included hormonal disturbances, developing male characteristics such as excessive body hair, muscles and deep voices, and liver and kidney problems.

Former shotput champion Heidi Krieger
Former shot-put champion Heidi Krieger says she was forced to have a sex change
A few women still suffer from menstrual and gynaecological problems, the indictment says.

Heidi Krieger, the 1986 European shot-put champion, said she had to undergo a sex change operation because of the male hormones given to her during training in the 1980s.

Complaints from 32 women have been filed to the court.

Former swimming champion Martina Gottschalk told this week's Super Illu magazine: "I can't forget what was done to me."

"Three times a day we had to swallow little blue pills with sweetened tea. We were told it was vitamins, but we were doped against our will," she said."

Gottschalk, 34, said she still suffers abdomen pains and gall bladder problems.

She also believes steriods were to blame for her son being born with crippled feet.

Gold medals

The doping programme had dramatic results. In just four years, East Germany doubled its gold medal awards from 20 in 1972 to 40 at the Montreal games in 1976.

A country with less than 17 million people also managed to win 11 of 13 events in women's swimming in 1976 and again in 1980.

Investigations into the doping policy began after secret police documents and other files emerged after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1990.
Manfred Hoeppner
Former medical chief Manfred Hoeppner admitted his part

The authorities in Berlin are investigating about 500 people suspected of being involved.

Courts have handed down fines and suspended sentences - but no jail terms - to the nine former East German sports officials prosecuted so far.

In January, the former chief doctor of East Germany's swimming team, Lothar Kipke was convicted on 58 counts of causing bodily harm.

He was fined 7,300 marks ($3,400) and given a 15-month suspended jail sentence to be served only if he violates probation.

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