A record-setting 70-year-old runner who earlier this week had been disqualified from the Los Angeles Marathon amid cheating accusations was found dead Thursday morning in the Los Angeles River, the LA County coroner's office has confirmed to the Washington Post. ABC13 reports that the LAPD responded to a body found in shallow water around 10am Thursday, in the Cypress Park area of Los Angeles. Meza was pronounced dead at the scene. Although an autopsy is pending, officials don't believe Meza drowned. Meza's wife, Tina, tells the Daily Beast that her husband, who she says has been distressed over the cheating allegations, told her Thursday he was going for a run.
"I said, 'It will be good for you,' and he said, 'I'll see you later,'" she says, adding that the allegations were all "manufactured lies." "We don't understand why he was attacked," she notes. "He was just a soft-spoken, nice person. It hurt him deeply." The LA Marathon's organizer, Conqur Endurance Group, put out a statement on Meza's death, per the AP: "We [are] deeply saddened to learn of the death of Dr. Frank Meza. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family." Derek Murphy, an amateur investigator who probed Meza's runs on his website, says in a statement he's also "deeply saddened," per the Daily Beast. "There will be a time for comment and a broader discussion, but at this point, I feel that we should all allow those close to Frank the space to grieve," he notes. (Read more marathon stories.)