The death of retired Dr. Frank Meza of South Pasadena – the 70-year-old runner who was disqualified from the 2019 Los Angeles Marathon amid a cheating scandal – has been ruled a suicide, according to multiple reports.
Meza’s body was found in the Los Angeles River in the Cypress Park area on July 4, three days after organizers of the L.A. Marathon concluded an investigation and ruled that Meza had left the 26.1-mile course and taken a shortcut en route to a 2-hour, 53-minute, 10-second finishing time.
That mark would have been a world-record for a man his age in a marathon. It was more than an hour faster than the next-fastest finisher in his age group in the March L.A. race.
Meza’s eye-popping time raised red flags — and a blogger who covers the marathon world reportedly came up with video that showed the physician taking a shortcut.
Reportedly, Meza said he left the course only to relieve himself.
But the investigation by L.A. marathon officials reportedly determined that Meza had left the course and rejoined it at another point, prompting the officials to disqualify him.
The coroner’s office, meanwhile, ruled on Monday that Meza had died from multiple blunt-force injuries. Los Angeles Police had been alerted to a body lying in shallow water, following reports that someone might have jumped from a bridge.
Meza’s wife, Tina, told The Daily Beast web site that her husband had been distraught over the allegations, as well as by other charges that he had also cheated in other races over the years. Meza was a longtime long-distance runner.
“Running was very important to my husband,’’ his widow told the web site. “He had been running marathons for the last 30 or 40 years. He was very fast, quite fast, and now unfortunately he won’t run marathons anymore.’’