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Soccer Haunted By Unexplained Deaths

"There is no escape, nor should there be, from the shocking news that the heart of a top sportsman in the prime of his life has ceased beating for no detectable reason," writes Rob Hughes of the abrupt, and seemingly unexplainable, death of 26-year-old Espanyol captain Dani Jarque on Saturday.

The abrupt death marks "the second time in two years that a supremely fit young Spaniard, a defender and leader of men, has died at this time of year when players are supposed to be at the pinnacle of preseason performance" and adds to similar deaths suffered in the past six years by Marc-Vivien Foe of Cameroon, Chaswe Nsofwa of Zambia, Hugo Cunha of Portugal; Miklos Feher of Hungary, Phil O'Donnell of Scotland; and Serginho and Marco Dos Santos of Brazil.

Hughes documents that all of these players were "apparently fit until autopsies on them ... in some cases showed hidden heart defects." With "no evidence of any of these nine men, almost enough for a world class lineup, has been put forward relating to the use of performance enhancing drugs," still other causes of death "remain mysterious."



Read the whole story at New York Times »

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