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March 1, 2006
And I Thought Little League Was Bad

As anyone who has spent time with youth sports programs knows, some parents push their children into competitive sports as a means of living vicariously through them. These parents will berate their children, insult other parents and league officials, and become very demanding and very tiresome. They don't usually turn deadly, as one French father did in ensuring that his children won their tennis matches:

For former military officer Christophe Fauviau, tennis was more than just a game, especially when his two children were on court. Even if they were competing in a minor tournament it was not enough for them to take part - they had to win.

Today Colonel Fauviau will appear before a judge accused of going to extraordinary lengths to make sure they did - by poisoning their rivals with sedatives. It was a tactic that went horribly wrong when one young player into whose water bottle Col Fauviau allegedly slipped a sleep-inducing antidepressant died after losing control of his car as he drove home from a match. ...

Police began investigating after a young player spotted Col Fauviau allegedly tampering with his drink bottle shortly before he was due to face Maxime in the semifinal of a tournament in a local village. The player decided not to drink the water and, after losing the match, handed it to detectives for analysis.

The following day Maxime's opponent in the final fell ill after the match and was kept in hospital for several days. Tests on his water bottle revealed traces of Temesta, an antidepressant that causes extreme drowsiness.

Before detectives had completed their inquiries, Alexandre Lagardère, 25, a primary school teacher, pulled out of a match with Maxime on July 3 2003 after the first set complaining that he felt too exhausted to continue. Maxime went on to win the first prize in what was supposedly an unimportant friendly tournament. While he was driving home, Mr Lagardère's car left the road and he was killed. A postmortem examination revealed traces of Temesta.

Col. Fauviau may not have intended to kill his son's rival, but spiking someone's drink shows a reckless disregard for their safety that in the US could result in a second-degree murder charge. It's not the same level of intent as the Texas cheerleader mom who attempted to hire a hit man to kill the mother of her daughter's rival, but it's the same illness driving both.

Most people enter their children into these programs for exercise, socialization, and a bit of healthy competition. Extracurricular sports programs teach teamwork, instill discipline, and when the pressure to win comes from the athlete instead of overzealous parents and coaches, for a bit of fun. Unfortunately, some people put their own needs for glory ahead of the mental and physical health of their children -- and in a few extreme cases, ahead of the lives of their opponents.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 1, 2006 6:03 AM

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