Germany awards compensation to GDR victims

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BERLIN, Oct 11 (Reuters) Germany has awarded compensation to athletes who were victims of former communist East Germany's doping programme, the country's Olympic sports body DOSB said today.

The DOSB said it had distributed a sum of nearly 2.9 million euros to 157 recognised claimants.

Victims of East Germany's doping programme say they unwittingly received drugs when they were children, causing them to suffer heart deformities, liver failure and cancer, as well as other health problems.

''It was important to us that German sport live up to its moral responsibility, and we... have done that,'' DOSB General Director Michael Vesper said in a statement..

In December 2006, the DOSB agreed to pay the doping victims financial compensation after they threatened legal action when negotiations with Germany's old Olympic Committee and the drug firm Jenapharm fell through in April 2006.

Jenapharm was once part of the East German pharmaceuticals industry and produced the steroids used to dope the athletes.

After German reunification in 1990, investigators determined that some 600 athletes had once been part of East Germany's ''supportive measures'' programme, which involved involuntary doping.

REUTERS PDS BST1958

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