Safety in question after deaths of high-profile athletes

6th February 2009, Comments 0 comments

The latest death was that of Belgian Frederiek Nolf - the cyclist was found dead in his hotel room.

PARIS - Recent, mysterious deaths of a number of high-profile sportsmen have given rise to yet more questions over the safety of high-level athletic pursuits.

The latest was on Thursday when the cycling world was stunned when Frederiek Nolf of Belgium was found dead in his hotel room just before the fifth stage of the Tour of Qatar.

Nolf would have turned 22 just on Tuesday next week after becoming a professional cyclist in 2008.

The case is not unprecedented.

In 2003 Fabrice Salanson of France died in his sleep aged just 23 in the 2003 Tour of Germany.

In the middle of last month, Tongan rugby player Feao Latu died from a heart attack during a French third division match. He had recently got married and was a father of two, collapsing on the field with the match only a quarter-hour old.

The 28-year-old Perigueux flanker fell down, asked for attention from his own officials, and less than an hour later he was pronounced dead in hospital.

Another Perigueux player Francis Rongieras died in similar tragic circumstances 18 years ago.

On January 22, a 23-year-old French professional footballer died from a heart attack while playing for second division Clermont.

Clement Pinault had played in their 2-0 win over Brest on January 16 and then just two days later was rushed to hospital and eventually died after being held in an artificial coma.

Club doctor Franck Thiel Pinault said Pinault had not in any way shown signs of cardiac difficulties since his arrival from Le Mans in the summer.

On Wednesday, the Argentina legal system announced they would be investigating the death of French motorcyclist Pascal Terry in last month's Dakar Rally.

Terry was found dead three days after disappearing while racing and a post-mortem indicated he died from a pulmonary edema which brought on cardio-respiratory failure.

Exactly what happened in the remote area may never be known.

The tragic deaths of Sevilla defender Antonio Puerta, in 2007, and Cameroonian Marc-Vivien Foe at the Confederations Cup, plus other high profile on-pitch fatalities, prompted UEFA to introduce compulsory cardiac testing for players at Euro 2008.


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