MOSCOW – Prosecutors will reopen the investigation into the death of New York Rangers draft pick Alexei Cherepanov, who collapsed during a Continental Hockey League game last year in Russia.
The federal prosecutor’s Investigative Committee ruled last month that team doctors were not to blame for Cherepanov’s death and would face no criminal charges. Investigators said doctors with Siberian team Avangard Omsk had no reason to suspect the 19-year-old suffered from a chronic heart problem and therefore did not prescribe the medicine he was taking.
But the committee on Monday reopened the case and ordered that new medical tests be carried out in a federal centre for forensic medicine.
Cherepanov, a first-round pick in 2007, died after collapsing on the bench during an Oct. 13 game in Chekhov, a town outside Moscow. Authorities say an autopsy showed he suffered from myocarditis, a condition that obstructs blood flow to the heart and other organs.
The investigators’ initial conclusion seemed to lay more blame on Cherepanov than anyone else. They said Cherepanov most likely felt unwell but hid his condition from team doctors for fear of being pulled from games.
Cherepanov’s mother, Margarita, rejected the conclusions, and insisted that her son was healthy.
In December, the Investigative Committee said medical experts had concluded from analysis of blood and urine samples that Cherepanov “engaged in doping” for several months before his death.
But in their July ruling investigators said he had been taking cordiaminum, which apparently stimulates circulation and breathing as well as the central nervous system, suggesting he may have been taking it to treat his condition.
Avangard’s president, general manager and a team doctor were suspended indefinitely from positions in the league, and another Avangard doctor was suspended for two years.
The president of the host club, Vityaz, also was suspended indefinitely amid complaints about medical services at the arena.