All players to undergo checks for heart defects

DUSSELDORF: The players of all 32 competing nations at the 2006 World Cup will undergo medical checks for potential heart defects prior to the Finals, football's governing body FIFA revealed at the World Cup workshop here on Monday. 

The measure comes three years after the tragic death of Cameroon international midfielder Marc Vivien Foe at the 2003 Confederations Cup. 

The 28-year-old Foe collapsed suddenly in Cameroon's semi-final match against Colombia and medical staff failed to resuscitate the player who later died in a Lyon hospital. 

With this tragedy in mind FIFA have now decided to have defibrillators, an apparatus that helps to restart a stopped heart, on hand at the 12 World Cup stadiums.  

“This is a great innovation and we are the first sporting association to undertake such a measure,” said Jiri Dovak, FIFA's chief medical officer. “We want to set the tone for the future.” 

All chief doctors for the 32 teams also signed a document which effectively binds them to medical prevention and anti-doping measures. 

A minimum of four players from each team will be dope-tested randomly before and during the month-long competition. 

FIFA also said their doctors would carry out tests on players in the friendly matches which take place in April and May. 

Up until now Argentina's 1986 World Cup winning hero Diego Maradona has been the biggest doping victim in football history, testing positive for cocaine at the 1994 World Cup. – AFP 

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