August 10, 2009

Russia to reopen Cherepanov death probe

Russian officials say they will open a new investigation into the death of 19-year-old hockey star Alexei Cherepanov.

Cherepanov, considered one of Russia's rising young hockey stars, collapsed and died last October after playing a game for the Omsk Avangard club in the Moscow region. An earlier declaration that Cherepanov had died of natural causes was later found to be incorrect, RIA Novosti said.

The file has been returned to investigators in the Omsk Region for additional checks, said Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for an investigative committee, adding that the probe will take another look at Cherepanov's myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle.

An autopsy revealed that the teenage player suffered from chronic myocarditis, meaning he should not have been allowed to play hockey.

Cherepanov was nicknamed the Siberian Express. In 2007, he beat the Russian league goal-scoring record for rookies previously held by the legendary Pavel Bure, and was expected to follow Bure's path to the National Hockey League , the Russian news agency said. He had been selected in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft that year by the New York Rangers.