The death of Claire Squires in last year’s London marathon was a terrible and tragic event. It was something that hit home with me, as I’m sure it did with plenty of other people who share the hobby of long distance running. I was in the same race and was quite ill afterwards and at the time I did wonder how dangerous it is when we push ourselves that hard over a marathon.
The specific reason for the cause of death was released today, a coroner ruled that the most likely cause was a single dose of a performance enhancing drug, which was legal at the time, called Jack3d which contained a stimulant called DMAA. It seems such a shame that this drug was allowed to be distributed, uncontrolled, in the UK when it can have such consequences. I have written previously about the lack of control over non-food health products and this further highlights the fact that you simply cannot trust anything to be safe just because it’s legal.
The history of DMAA is fairly long, dating back to the 1940’s and it has been known as potentially dangerous for some time; manufacturers have changed the marketed name of the product to avoid detection in the past so it’s not as if much research would have been required by UK authorities in order to prevent it from going on sale, but the current system does not allow this process to take place.
All in all, it’s a terrible outcome to learn that this was probably a very avoidable death. I really feel for Claire’s family and can’t imagine how I would feel should this happen to a friend of mine. Running should be about enjoying it, we shouldn’t care so much about our times and about what others think, we should leave that to the professional athletes to bother with. It’s hard to do, but that’s my aim for the next marathon.