Cherepanov took performance-enhancing drugs: investigators

Russian investigators said Monday that Alexei Cherepanov, the New York Rangers prospect who died this fall, had been taking performance-enhancing drugs for months.

Russian investigators said Monday that Alexei Cherepanov, a New York Rangers prospect who died this fall, had been taking performance-enhancing drugs for months.

Cherepanov, 19, collapsed on Oct. 13 while on the bench for Russian club Avangard during a Continental Hockey League game. He died shortly afterwards.

In a statement, Russia's federal Investigative Committee said that the chemical analysis of Cherepanov's blood and urine samples led experts to conclude "that for several months Alexei Cherepanov engaged in blood doping."

The statement also said Cherepanov in his final year suffered from myocarditis, a condition where not enough blood gets to the heart, and that he should not have been playing professional hockey.

The statement went on to say that the Russian club's medical team might carry legal liability.

"I think it is more a tragedy for a young person and a family that he passed away," said Anders Hedberg, a scout for the New York Rangers, who drafted Cherepanov in the 2007 draft.

"If besides the inherited heart problem, if there was something … used and abused, it is unfortunate and it should not put a shadow over this tragedy," Hedberg said.

Prosecutors earlier this month accused the club's director of negligence. Mikhail Denisov has since been fired, but Monday's statement did not mention him by name.

Cherepanov, of Barnaul, Russia, was the Rangers' first-round choice (17th overall) in the 2007 NHL entry draft.

With files from Alan Adams