Some of the press coverage of Michael Schumacher’s horrific ski accident that has left him in a medically induced coma since December has been questionable at best.
But the front cover of German women's magazine Die Aktuelle takes the inaccurate and ethically dubious reporting surrounding the former Formula One champion’s medical treatment to a whole new low (scroll down to see the image).
Together with the headline ‘Awake!’, the magazine published a picture of the star smiling with his wife Corinna.
However, a quick flick through the issue promptly revealed that the headline bore no relation to Schumacher at all, but instead to a number of stories about different individuals who had woken up after a coma.
Naturally, the issue has sparked criticism from Schumacher fans and foreign media alike.
German news portal News.de questioned whether the publisher, Gong-Verlag, had deliberately attempted to mislead readers in order to cash in on the tragedy, or whether the issue had simply fallen victim to careless subbing.
“The magazine should be sued. It is just terrible. Tasteless,” one fan wrote about the Die Aktuelle cover on Twitter.
“It was just a blatant attempt to sell more copies of their mag through sensational stories,” said another.
Career in Pictures: Michael Schumacher
Career in Pictures: Michael Schumacher
1/17 February 2006
Michael Schumacher is seen in the pits during a training session at the Ricardo Tormo racetrack in Cheste near Valencia in 2006
2/17 November 1994
Hugging two team mechanics in delight for becoming World Champion Driver after the Australian Grand Prix at the Adelaide circuit in November 1994
3/17 October 1995
Flavio Briatore carries a jubilant Michael after he wins the Pacific F1 Grand Prix at Aida in Japan, and wins his second World Drivers Championshp
4/17 February 1996
Schmacher pushes his Ferrari back to the pits after engine trouble left him stranded at the entrance of the pitlane during pre-season testing at Estoril, Portugal
5/17 March 1996
During the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne
6/17 March 1997
Michael Schumacher in the pit lane during the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park in Melbourne, Australia
7/17 October 2000
Celebrating on the podium after winning the formula one world championship at the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, Japan
8/17 July 2006
Michael Schumacher of Germany and Ferrari leads the pack into the first corner at the start of the French Formula One Grand Prix at the Nevers Magny-Cours Circuit
Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images
9/17 October 2010
Michael Schumacher drives during the Korean Formula One Grand Prix at the Korea International Circuit
Clive Mason/Getty Images
10/17 October 2011
Michael Schumacher and Mercedes GP waves to the crowd as he attends the drivers parade before the Indian Formula One Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit on October 30, 2011 in Noida, India
11/17 December 2011
Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher celebrate after winning the Nations Cup at day one of the race of champions event at the Esprit Arena
12/17 June 2012
Michael Schumacher drives at the Valencia Street Circuit on June 22, 2012 in Valencia during the first practice race of the European Formula One Grand Prix
13/17 September 2012
Michael Schumacher crashes into the back of Jean-Eric Vergne of France and Scuderia Toro Rosso during the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix in September 2012
14/17 November 2012
Schumacher drives in his last race during the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace
Mark Thompson/Getty Images
15/17 December 2013
Deputy director Jean Marc Grenier talks to media outside the CHU Nord hospital in Grenoble, French Alps
16/17 December 2013
Members of the staff are seen outside the emergency services at the CHU Nord hospital in Grenoble, French Alps; this is the hospital where retired seven-times Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher is reported to be hospitalized after a ski accident
17/17 December 2013
A Scuderia Ferrari and Michael Schumacher fan waits, on December 29, in Grenoble, in front of the emergency department of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire hospital
Gong-Verlag has so far declined to comment on the backlash.
The issue follows claims made by former Formula 1 chief doctor Dr Gary Hartstein last week that fans should prepare themselves “for the worst” news as attempts to awaken Schumacher continue.
Schumacher suffered serious brain injuries after hitting his head on a rock when skiing off-piste in the exclusive French resort of Meribel at the end of December.
The 45-year-old’s manager Sabine Kehm confirmed early in March that attempts to awaken the seven-time world champion are continuing and will do for “as long as it takes”, warning that it can be a very long and drawn out process.
However, Dr Hartstein – who was a key figure in the paddock until the end of the 2012 season – has admitted that the longer it takes, the less likely it is that Schumacher will ever recover.
Writing on his personal blog, the American said: “As time goes on it becomes less and less likely that Michael will emerge to any significant extent.”
Dr Hartstein went on to describe Schumacher’s current state as a “persistent coma”, and mentioned the “severe ramifications” that a lengthy period of time in a coma can cause.
“As mentioned previously, the longer one remains in a vegetative state, the less the likelihood of emerging, and the higher the chances of severe ramifications if the patient does in fact emerge,” Dr Hartstein wrote.
“Most definitions consider the vegetative state to be permanent one year after the injury.
“Patients who are in a persistent/permanent vegetative state have lifespans that are measured in months to a few years. This depends on baseline function (extraordinary in the case of Michael, of course), the quality of nursing care, and other imponderables. They usually die of respiratory or urinary infections. Longer survivals have been described, but are exceptional.”