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How sport and exercise medicine research can protect athlete health and promote athlete performance
  1. Margo Mountjoy1,2,
  2. Lars Engebretsen3,4
  1. 1Family Medicine, McMaster University Michael G DeGroote School of Medicine, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2Bureau, FINA, Lausanne, Switzerland
  3. 3Division of Ortho Surg, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway
  4. 4Medical and Scientific Department, International Olympic Committee, Lausanne, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Margo Mountjoy, Family Medicine, McMaster University Michael G DeGroote School of Medicine, Waterloo, ON N2G 1C5, Canada; mountjm{at}

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American swimming legend, Fran Crippen died on the 23 October 2010 during an open water FINA World Cup event in the heat of Dubai. His untimely death—likely as a result of hyperthermia but never confirmed1—directly led to FINA implementing a limit to how hot water could be for swimming competitions. FINA refers to this as the ‘upper limit safe water temperature rule’.2 This rule followed extensive collaborative research with the IOC and the International Triathlon Union (ITU) to investigate how swimmers respond to varying degrees of warm water temperature. Utilising sport medicine and science research to determine rule changes should be ‘the gold standard’ practice to protect athlete health.

Some of the larger International Sporting Federations, such as football (FIFA), aquatics (FINA), athletics (International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF)) and skiing (Ski Federation (FIS)) self-fund scientific research on athlete safety; other International Federations accomplish a similar outcome through collaboration with academic institutions that garner research grants from various sources. The IOC funds targeted research through Olympic Solidarity and the IOC Medical and Scientific Commission. In addition, the IOC now has 11 research centres worldwide that carry out sport science research that protects athlete health. This editorial highlights four categories of initiatives by International Federations for athlete protection. All have been …

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