Portion of Russian league players tested; 5 found to have heart defects

11/12/2008 - NHL New York Rangers

MOSCOW -- Heart defects have been found in five players in the Russian ice hockey league since the death of rising star Alexei Cherepanov, an official said Wednesday.

Russia's Continental Hockey League ordered the tests after Cherepanov, 19, collapsed and died last month from a heart condition while playing for his club Avangard.

Cherepanov was a New York Rangers draft pick.

Russian league spokesman Marat Safin said 49 players have undergone testing with their clubs, and five turned out to have problems.

He said that figure could rise because 18 players are still to be checked. Results from the total sample of 67 players are expected Friday.

Safin said there was no reason to suspect any form of drug abuse or doping among the players.