Tragedy at Fujairah: Risk Management and Legal Issues on the Death of Fran Crippen


Ethics and Business Law

Date of this version


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sports, risk management, legal issues


On October 23, 2010 the city of Fujairah, east of Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) hosted the eighth and final race of the 2010 FINA (Fédération Internationale de Natation) 10 Kilometer (10K) Marathon Swimming World Cup. Eighty-two swimmers, men and women, entered the water, but Fran Crippen of the United States was the only competitor who did not finish. For some time race officials and fellow swimmers did not even realize that he was missing. When the swimmers, not officials, realized that he was missing they raced back into the water trying to find him. After more than a two hour search, coast guard and police divers found him just before the last buoy on the course about 400 - 500 meters out from the land and in water seven to eight meters deep (Gomes, 2010). Crippen was carried to shore and taken to Fujairah Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead of complications from heat exhaustion (Gomes, 2010).

Those associated with the sport such as event organizers are under no duty to protect competitors from the inherent risks associated with their respective sports (Dobbs, 2000). However, the organizers have a duty to use due care not to increase the risks to a participant over and above those inherent in the sport (Dobbs, 2000). As such, it would be incumbent on a sports event manager to develop and maintain a risk management plan. Operationally speaking, risk management becomes ineffective when there is not a clearly articulated view of the risk policy and its relationship to overall strategy and policy (Miller, Wendt, & Young, 2010).

As such, it is important to emphasize that present-day risk management is developed and implemented as a broad process for assessing and addressing risks – a process in which operational risk management is but one part. Risk management practices identify and assess the broadest possible range of risks in less structured settings (Miller, Wendt, & Young, 2010).

Thus, risk management offers the organizational decision-makers an opportunity to advance a wide-ranging organizational policy for managing risks.

Published in

Sports and Entertainment Law Journal

Citation/Other Information

Wendt, J.T. and Miller, J.J. (2012), “Tragedy at Fujairah: Risk management and legal issues on the death of Fran Crippen,” University of Denver Sports and Entertainment Law Journal, Vol. 12, 71 – 101.