Performance-enhancing drugs caused runner’s death

Claire Squires collapsed a mile from the finish line of the London Marathon
Claire Squires collapsed a mile from the finish line of the London Marathon
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The family of a healthy woman who collapsed during the London Marathon have called for tighter regulation of health supplements after hearing that an “amphetamine-like” substance in one she used probably led to her death.

Claire Squires, 30, a keen runner, collapsed a mile from the finish line on 22 April last year. The hairdresser, from North Kilworth, Leicestershire, suffered cardiac failure and was dead within two hours, an inquest at Southwark Coroner’s Court heard yesterday.

She bought the supplement Jack3D online but did not realise it contained 1,3-dimethylamine (DMAA), which increases heart rate, the court heard.

Boyfriend Simon van Herrewege told the hearing Miss Squires put a scoop in her water bottle for a boost if she needed it during her charity run for the Samaritans.

Outside court, he read a statement on behalf of the family.

“Claire would never ever have taken anything that would cause her harm, or even worse risk her life.

“She innocently took a supplement which at the time was entirely legal and widely available on the high street and, somewhat worryingly, apparently used by so many others.

“It is clear that there needs to be far better supervision of the so-called health foods and supplements industry so that no more tragedies like this happen again, causing other families to have to go through what we have been through this past year.

“Claire was a beautiful person committed to helping others. We have been comforted by all those who knew and loved Claire and by the heart-warming support shown by the general public through donations to the Samaritans and subsequent charitable events to raise money for worthwhile causes in her name.

“The overwhelming response will help Claire’s memory live on and hopefully help others.”

Coroner Dr Philip Barlow issued a similar warning: “My hope is that the coverage of this case and the events leading up to Claire’s death will help publicise the potentially harmful effects of DMAA during extreme ­exertion.”

He ruled: “She had taken a supplement containing DMAA which, on the balance of probabilities in combination with ­extreme physical exertion, caused acute cardiac failure which resulted in her death.”

The coroner said no-one should believe that Miss Squires regularly took the drug, which is not illegal to buy, possess or use, even though the court heard that it is banned by the US army and for elite athletes.

Turning to her family, who had listened quietly throughout the hearing, Dr Barlow said: “She was obviously a very dedicated and well-motivated person. She died raising money for charity. I can only offer my condolences to all members of the family for a very tragic loss of an obviously dear person.”

Miss Squires had aimed to raise £500 for the Samaritans but the total jumped to more than £1 million through support after her death.

Jack3D is still being sold on Amazon but DMAA has been taken out of it, the court heard.

Dr Barlow said: “It has been linked with deaths in the US army and has also been banned in some other countries.

“There is a lot of clear theoretical risk of taking that substance during extreme physical ­exertion. There is no evidence that Claire was aware of that.”

Miss Squires had run the London Marathon two years before and wanted to beat a time of four hours. She had also completed the Great North Run and Belfast Marathon.

Sports Supplements Limited, based in Colchester, Essex, is an importer of Jack3D. Adam Rossiter, managing director of the firm, said: “Jack3D in its original form was taken off the market here last year. A different version, Jack3D Micro, which does not contain DMAA, has since released.”