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East German Sports Chief Convicted

July 18, 2000

BERLIN (AP) _ The longtime chief of East Germany’s powerful Olympic team was convicted Tuesday as the ``driving force″ behind the secret doping of promising young athletes to win more medals. He was sentenced to 22 months probation.

The court found Manfred Ewald, 73, and his longtime medical director, Manfred Hoeppner, 66, shared responsibility for the ``systematic and overall doping in competitive sports″ in East Germany from 1974 until the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. Hoeppner was given 18 months probation.

Both were convicted of being accessories to causing bodily harm: the side effects of the steroids secretly given to unwitting young athletes, many of them minors.

Both men also were ordered to pay the court costs of 20 women _ all former East German athletes _ who joined the case as co-plaintiffs.

Prosecutors had sought two-year suspended sentences for both defendants, but said they would not appeal.

Defense lawyers said they might appeal.

In its verdict, the court said both men were aware of potentially dangerous side effects _ ranging from excessive body hair and deep voices to liver, kidney and menstrual problems _ but accepted them in their efforts to improve athletic performance.

The court said Ewald was the ``driving force″ behind the doping program because of his high position in East Germany. A member of the communist party’s central committee since 1963, he was president of East Germany’s sports federation from 1961-88 and of its National Olympics Committee from 1973 until the country ceased to exist in 1990.

Hoeppner, as the country’s top sports doctor, worked out the details of the doping program and distributed the steroids to other sports doctors and coaches, the court found.

The results were dramatic: East Germany, with less than 17 million people, went from 20 gold medals in 1972, to 40 at the Montreal Games in 1976. East Germans won 11 of 13 events in women’s swimming in both 1976 and 1980.

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