Ex-Iowa player sues over rhabdo effects

March, 11, 2014
Mar 11
1:15
PM ET
Remember rhabdo? About three years ago, 13 Iowa football players had to be hospitalized with a serious muscle disorder called rhabdomyolysis, a stress-induced syndrome they contracted after a grueling series of winter workouts.

It became a major story at the time, sparking a university investigation that concluded a squat-lifting workout caused the condition but that Iowa's strength and conditioning staff didn't intend to punish players with the regimen, which had been conducted before without medical problems. The school found no wrongdoing among trainers, coaches or players and recommended that the football strength and conditioning staff abandon the workout, which it has.

Although the incident created some bad publicity for coach Kirk Ferentz and the football program, it largely faded away, as things tend to do at Iowa. Ferentz retained longtime head strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle, even giving Doyle an assistant of the year award less than three months after the outbreak.

Well, Iowa and rhabdo are in the news again as former player William Lowe is suing the school for mistreatment during and after the workout and continued physical and mental suffering stemming from his bout with rhabdo.

From the Associated Press:
Lowe alleges in his lawsuit that he and others reported "substantial leg pain and stiffness as well as abnormally dark urine" after that workout and fatigue that was atypical. Despite such reports, Lowe says he and the others were required to participate in a mandatory intensive workout the next day focusing on their upper-body muscles.

After taking the weekend off, players had another mandatory workout Jan. 24. Within hours, Lowe and others started showing up at the hospital and were diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis.

Lowe says he was released from the hospital Feb. 2, but he still suffered from weight loss, pain in his lower back and legs, headaches and high blood pressure over the next several months. The 24-year-old says he suffered mental and physical pain and anguish that has required ongoing expenses for medical care, therapy, drugs and other treatment.

"The injuries and damages sustained by Plaintiff William Lowe ... arose from the same general types of danger that Defendant should have avoided through safe and proper athletic training and supervision," Lowe's lawsuit reads.

Lowe, a cornerback, asked for and received his release from the program in April 2011, citing lingering effects from rhabdo. Lowe told ESPN's Joe Schad that he had lost 20 pounds and was still experiencing headaches.

"Some said this wasn't a big deal," Lowe told Schad. "But this was a big deal to me."

Back then, it seemed like lawsuits were likely because so many players were involved, and finally one has been filed.

Iowa is not commenting on the lawsuit.

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