East German Athletes to Sue Drug Firm Over Olympic Doping

April 11, 2006

Former East German athletes who suffered health problems because of systematic doping plan to sue a pharmaceutical company for damages.

Talks to settle the case out of court failed this week in Hamburg, their lawyer, Michael Lehner, said.

Lehner was representing 160 victims of doping in talks with the Jenapharm company and the National Olympic Committee of Germany.

“We’ll have to sue Jenapharm now,” Lehner said. “Jenapharm did not come here to reach a settlement.”

Jenapharm was a state-run company in former East Germany that produced performance-enhancing drugs such as the widely used Oral-Turinabol. The company is now owned by Schering AG.

Jenapharm managing director Isabel Rothe regretted the failure of talks.

“After waiting a year and a half for this hearing, it’s not an easy day for us,” she said.

The case has been going through German courts for more than five years and stems from the lawsuit seeking damages filed by former swimmer Karen Koenig.

Lehner is seeking an average of euro20,000 (US$24,000) in damages for each of his 160 clients — a total of euro3.2 million (US$3.84 million).

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