Dad Sentenced in Drugging Kids' Tennis Opponents

A father who drugged his children's tennis opponents, leading to a player's death, was sentenced to eight years in prison after being convicted Thursday.

Christophe Fauviau had confessed to the crime during his trial in Mont-de-Marsan in southwestern France.

The former military pilot was accused of spiking the water bottles of his children's opponents 27 times in tournaments across France from 2000 to 2003, using the anti-anxiety drug Temesta, which can cause drowsiness.

Prosecutor Serge Mackowiack had asked for a sentence of eight to 10 years in prison — below the 20-year maximum for the charge of unintentionally causing death by administering toxic substances.

In asking for the lighter sentence, Mackowiack said Fauviau had been a good soldier and said he did not seek to kill or injure the players.

Still, the prosecutor described Fauviau as "an adult who turned his children into objects of his own fantasies of success" and whose actions were premeditated.

"Nothing stopped you: Players collapsing on the court, the sight of gurneys, of an 11-year-old girl, a young woman who collapses against a fence. Nothing stopped you," Mackowiack said.

Fauviau's 16-year-old daughter, Valentine, is a rising star in French tennis.

In tearful earlier testimony, Fauviau asked the parents of the victim, 25-year-old Alexandre Lagardere, for forgiveness.

"It's something that completely took me over, and I couldn't imagine that I could be responsible for the death of your son," he told the court last week. "I never wanted things to come out like this."

Opponents of Fauviau's daughter and son, Maxime, complained to investigators of suffering weakness, dizziness, nausea or fainting. Several were hospitalized.

In July 2003, Maxime Fauviau defeated Lagardere, who complained of fatigue after the match and slept for two hours. While driving home, Lagardere crashed his car and died, and police believe he fell asleep at the wheel.

Toxicology tests showed traces of Temesta in his system.

Fauviau, a former helicopter pilot instructor for the French army, has been in custody since his arrest in August 2003.