CHAPEL HILL, August 11 – Antonio Pettigrew, who was stripped of a 2000 Olympic 4x400m relay gold medal for doping, has been found dead at the age of 42, University of North Carolina officials said Tuesday.
There was no word on the exact time or possible cause of death for Pettigrew, whose body was discovered on Tuesday according to a spokesman for the university, where Pettigrew was an assistant athletics coach.
Pettigrew, who won the 1991 400 metres world title in Tokyo, was a member of the 4×400 metres American relay team that won the gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
But the International Olympic Committee (IOC) stripped Pettigrew and his teammates – including legend Michael Johnson – of their medals after he admitted, during a trial against former coach Trevor Graham, to doping.
In a statement, North Carolina athletics director Dick Baddour said the school was "deeply saddened" to learn of Pettigrew’s death.
"I was particularly impressed with the relationships he established with our student-athletes and the pride he took in representing the University of North Carolina," Baddour said.
Pettigrew is survived by his wife, Cassandra, and a son, Antonio Pettigrew jnr.
Pettigrew had never tested positive in a career in which his 1991 world 400 metres title was followed by World Championships relay gold in 1997 and 1999 before his triumph with the US squad in Sydney.
But he revealed his drug use when called to testify in Graham’s trial on perjury charges in 2008, after the athlete was implicated by prosecution witness, Angel Heredia.
Heredia, a self-described steroids dealer from Mexico, alleged Pettigrew and others received banned performance-enhancing drugs from him through Graham.
Pettigrew acknowledged using the prohibited substance erythropoietin, known as "EPO," and human growth hormone ("HGH"), from 1997 to 2003. He accepted a two-year ban.
His admission also cost him his relay gold medals from the 1997 and 1999 World Championships.