Gold-medal sprinter Antonio Pettigrew dies

Another tragic death of a performance enhancing drug user has been recorded.  Whether his apparent suicide was related to his past use of performance enhancing drugs may never be known.

Don

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. 

Antonio Pettigrew, a graduate of St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh who was stripped of an Olympic gold medal after admitting to using performance-enhancing drugs, was found dead early Tuesday, authorities said.

Two friends found Pettigrew in his 2008 White Dodge Aspen on a bridge on N.C. Highway 751 near Jordan Lake at about 3:15 a.m. and called Chatham County deputies for help. The friends went looking for Pettigrew after he did not show up for work Monday, authorities said.

Pettigrew was last seen at his Apex home at 10:30 a.m. Monday, and his wife had reported him missing, authorities said.

Deputies determined Pettigrew was dead but found no signs of trauma. His body has been sent to a medical examiner for an autopsy.

St. Augustine’s Athletic Director George Williams said Pettigrew died of a hemorrhage, but Maj. Gary Blankenship of the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office said authorities believe the cause of death was either a suicide or an accidental overdose.

Blankenship said Pettigrew had taken Unisom, a drug to help people sleep. Investigators were interviewing friends and relatives to determine Pettigrew’s recent state of mind, he said.

Pettigrew, 42, had coached sprinters, hurdlers and relay teams at UNC since the 2006-07 season.

“Although we are still learning the circumstances, we are deeply saddened to learn of Antonio’s death,” UNC Athletic Director Dick Baddour said in a statement. “I was particularly impressed with the relationships he established with his student-athletes and the pride he took in representing the University of North Carolina. Our deepest condolences go out to Antonio’s family, particularly his wife and son.

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