Venezuelan athletes pray for Chavez's recovery

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CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan athletes are praying for the recovery of President Hugo Chavez amid growing concerns over the socialist leader's health.

Formula One driver Pastor Maldonado, IndyCar Series driver Ernesto Jose Viso and other pro-Chavez athletes attended a Mass at a church in downtown Caracas on Sunday to pray for the ailing president. Athletes wearing jackets with the colors and stars of Venezuela's flag stood before an altar, solemnly reciting prayers.

The government revealed last week that Chavez is fighting a severe lung infection and receiving treatment for "respiratory deficiency."

Chavez hasn't spoken or appeared publicly since his Dec. 11 operation in Cuba, his fourth cancer-related surgery for an undisclosed type of pelvic cancer. Speculation about his condition have been growing since the operation.

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