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Fears grow F1 champion Schumacher could remain in persistent vegetative state

Visitors gather near a sculpture of Formula One great Michael Schumacher by sand artist Sudarshan Patnaik at a beach in Puri, in the eastern Indian city of Bhubaneswar, India

Biswaranjan Rout/The Associated Press

Hopes are dwindling that Michael Schumacher will make a full recovery, with fears growing that the seven-time Formula One champion will remain in a persistent vegetative state.

Schumacher has been in a medically induced coma in a France hospital for more than three weeks after falling while skiing off-piste in the Alps on December 29.

Doctors have performed two emergency operations and say his condition is stable, but Austrian news reports on Wednesday say Schumacher's family and friends are increasingly worried that he will remain in a persistent vegetative state, unable able to speak, move or feed himself, even if medics were to bring him out of the coma.

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According to news website Format, Schumacher remains at the University Hospital in Grenoble where he is being "fed with tubes, washed daily and moved again and again to avoid bed sores."

In the last official statement from Schumacher's manager released last Friday, Sabine Kehm did not mention the word "critical" for the first time in describing his condition.

"Michael's family is very happy and confident with the work of the team of doctors treating Michael, and they trust them completely. Michael's condition is still considered as stable," Kehm said at that time.

In the first statement since Schumacher's wife, Corinna, appealed for the family to be left in peace on Jan. 7, Kehm repeated that "any information regarding Michael's health not coming from the doctors treating him or from his management must be treated as pure speculation."

Doctors treating Schumacher in Grenoble have not commented on his condition since Jan. 6.

(Files from the Associated Press were used in this report)

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