MU athletics to require test for sickle cell trait

Friday, June 12, 2009 | 6:54 p.m. CDT; updated 10:08 p.m. CDT, Friday, June 12, 2009

COLUMBIA — All MU athletes will be required to undergo a test for sickle cell trait starting in the fall sports season, said Chad Moller, assistant athletic director for media relations.

The test, which has been offered to athletes on a voluntary basis since 2006, will be integrated into the physical examination that all MU athletes already undergo.

Because the sickle cell trait effects the functioning of blood cells, it can be a dangerous condition for athletes participating in intense physical activity.

The condition was cited as a contributing factor in the July 2005 death of MU football player Aaron O'Neal, whose family settled a $2 million wrongful death lawsuit in March with the athletic department.

Moller said the decision to require the test was not directly related to the outcome of the lawsuit.

"The test has always been there," he said. "We just decided we would go ahead and add it to the automatic testing."

Athletes that test positive for the trait will be allowed to continue participating in sporting events, Moller said. Coaches and trainers will be notified of the results.

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