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The BBC's Rob Broomby in Berlin
"It was billed as the most important East German sports doping trial to date"
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Tuesday, 2 May, 2000, 17:59 GMT 18:59 UK
German doping trial extended
Manfred Ewald
Manfred Ewald allegedly organised the doping programme
The trial is under way of two top former East German sports officials accused of ruining the health of almost 150 athletes by giving them performance-enhancing drugs.

Three times a day we had to swallow little blue pills with sweetened tea

Ex-swimming champion Martina Gottschalk
Judge Dirk Dickhaus ruled that the former head of the East German sports federation, Manfred Ewald, should face a full and open trial.

He told the court he would not conduct a trial behind the backs of those affected.

Mr Ewald, who headed the sports federation for 27 years, is on trial with Dr Manfred Hoeppner, his former medical director.

They face charges of "complicity in causing injury" to 142 swimmers and athletes - nearly all girls.

Neither spoke in court on Tuesday.

Secret programme

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

Former shotput champion Heidi Krieger
Former shot-put champion Heidi Krieger says she was forced to have a sex change
The trial, which opened on Tuesday, was initially scheduled to last only one day, but was adjourned until Friday.

The presiding judge said more sessions would be held to hear testimony from Dr Hoeppner and from several former athletes.

"We want the proceedings to be short, but we also want them to be fair to all those involved," he said.

The offences could be punished with up to three years jail.

The BBC's Berlin correspondent says the case comes amid mounting concern at the lenient sentences already handed down to East German sports officials and doctors found guilty on doping offences.


Prosecutors said Mr Ewald, now 73, had dismissed objections raised by scientists about the possible health risks of doping, accusing them of "cowardice".

He allegedly organised the state-sponsored programme that doped young female athletes, often without their consent or knowledge.

Many of the athletes were still minors.

"They're still so young and don't have to know everything," Mr Ewald allegedly told his staff, according to prosecutor Klaus-Heinrich Debes.

Dr Hoeppner, 66, who allegedly had links with the East German secret police, the Stasi, has admitted his part in the programme.

Manfred Hoeppner
Former medical chief Manfred Hoeppner admitted his part

Male characteristics

According to the indictment, the women who were given anabolic steroids suffered side-effects including hormonal disturbances, developing male characteristics such as excessive body hair, muscles and deep voices, and liver and kidney problems.

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 abdominal pains and gall bladder problems.

Gold medals

East German flag
East Germany dominated women's swimming
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.

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.

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