In Lyons on Thursday 10 July, FIFA medical officials met representatives of the French judiciary and medical-legal experts to discuss the results of the autopsy of Cameroon player Marc-Vivien Foé. He passed away on 26 June after his team’s FIFA Confederations Cup 2003 semi-final against Colombia, having collapsed unconscious on the pitch in the 72nd minute of the match for no apparent reason.
During the meeting that lasted a number of hours, state prosecutor Xavier Richaud, Medico-Legal Institute Technical Director Prof. Daniel Malicier, FIFA Chief Medical Officer Prof. Jiri Dvorak and Dr Alfred S. Müller, the FIFA doctor at the Lyons venue during the competition, discussed in detail the results of the autopsy’s findings, which were announced at a media conference on 7 July.
The post-mortem conducted on Marc-Vivien Foé showed that the 28-year-old Cameroon midfielder died from heart failure. He suffered from a hereditary cardiac hypertrophia of the left ventricle, and a hypertrophia of the right ventricle, together with a hypoplasia of the apex of the heart.
Comprehensive explanations provided by medical-legal experts also led to the conclusion that tropical illnesses, such as malarial infestation, could also be ruled out as causes for the tragic death of the player, as could bacterial infections and drepanocytosis.
The Medico-Legal Institute in Lyons also conducted extensive toxicological examinations of the deceased’s urine and blood, as well as fluid from the player’s spinal cord, gall bladder, and gastric juices. No traces of toxic substances or doping agents were found in any of these samples. In order to confirm these findings, the samples were also sent to the IOC-accredited laboratory in Lausanne for further tests and examinations. Analysis of hair samples also showed that the player had not taken any performance-enhancing substances in the past.
Marc-Vivien Foé was solemnly laid to rest in Yaoundé on 7 July 2003 during a state funeral attended by FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter and CAF President Issa Hayatou.