Marathoner, 70, Disqualified After Cheating Allegations Found Dead in Los Angeles River

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Frank Meza, a 70-year-old marathoner who was accused of cheating in the Los Angeles Marathon, was found dead in the Los Angeles River Thursday. 

Meza was disqualified Monday from the race, which took place back in March, after appearing to set a world record in his age group with an official time of 2:53:10. But after an investigation, Meza's record was revoked. 

Meza's cause of death has not yet been determined, but it's not suspected to be drowning, officials told KABC.

His wife, Tina Meza, told The Daily Beast that her husband was shattered by the allegations of cheating. 

“Running was very important to my husband,” Tina said. “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.”

He told her Thursday that he was going out for a run, she said. “I said, ‘It will be good for you,’ and he said, ‘I‘ll see you later,’” Tina said. It was the last time she saw him alive. 

The decision to disqualify Meza from the Los Angeles Marathon came after marathon officials said in a statement that cameras posted along the race captured Meza "re-entering the course from a position other than where he left it."

"The video evidence is confirmed by a credible eyewitness report and our calculation that Dr. Meza’s actual running time for at least one 5K course segment would have had to have been faster than the current 70-74 age group 5K world-record," the statement read, calling that an "impossible feat during a marathon."

Marathon officials said an image shows Meza stepping off a sidewalk and joining the race. Later, he's again spotted coming from a sidewalk and re-entering the race.

Meza, however, had denied the allegations of cheating, saying he merely left the course in search of a bathroom, running on the sidewalk as he did so.

“I didn’t cut the course,” he told the Los Angeles Times.

It was not the first time Meza had been disqualified from a marathon. In 2014 and 2016, he was disqualified from the California International Marathon for irregular splits. He was then banned from the race.

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