BERLIN (AP) _ The former head of East Germany's Olympics program is fit to stand trial on charges he gave female athletes steroids without their knowledge, a court ruled Tuesday.

Attorneys for Manfred Ewald, 73, had argued that their client was unable to follow the trial, which began earlier this month.

Ewald and longtime medical director Manfred Hoeppner, 66, are charged with 142 counts of being accessories to causing bodily harm _ the side-effects of the drugs, ranging from excessive body hair and deep voices to liver, kidney and menstrual problems.

The Berlin court where he is on trial ruled that Ewald is fit enough to handle two hours of hearings a day. Ewald had already been examined before the trial and declared fit enough for three hours of hearings a day.

Ewald and Hoeppner are the highest ranking officials from the East German sports machine to be brought into court as a result of the top-secret, state-sponsored doping that helped bring the country numerous Olympic gold medals.

Prosecutors say Ewald initiated the doping program and was also informed of the damaging side effects. Hoeppner allegedly ordered the steroid preparations himself and gave them to coaches.