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400m Champion Antonio Pettigrew Found Dead

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1400m Champion Antonio Pettigrew Found Dead Empty 400m Champion Antonio Pettigrew Found Dead Wed Aug 11, 2010 12:31 pm



400m Champion Antonio Pettigrew Found Dead 729620-us-4x400m-team
This picture, taken on September 30, 2000, shows the
US 4x400m relay team on the podium after winning gold
at the Sydney Olympics. The team (left-right) Antonio
Pettigrew, twins Calvin and Alvin Harrison and Michael
Johnson, were later stripped of the medals after
Pettigrew admitted to doping.

Atonio Pettigrew, US sprint star, found dead in car
From: AFP August 11, 2010

FORMER US sprint star Antonio Pettigrew, who was stripped of a Sydney Olympics gold medal for doping, has been found dead in his car.
His body - a bottle of sleeping pills next to him - was discovered at the University of North Carolina, where he worked as an assistant athletics coach. He was 42.

Pettigrew, who won the world 400 metres world title in Tokyo in 1991, was a member of the 4x400 metres American relay team that won the gold medal in Sydney in 2000.

But the International Olympic Committee (IOC) stripped Pettigrew and his teammates - including Michael Johnson - of their medals after he admitted later that he was involved in doping.

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 the perjury trial of former athletics coach Trevor Graham 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.

Pettigrew is survived by his wife, Cassandra, and a son, Antonio Pettigrew jnr.



Pettigrew's life Outran His Lapse
North Carolina News Observer
17th August 2010

C'mon. Y'all didn't have to do that to the man, did you?

Reporting the death of UNC assistant track coach Antonio Pettigrew last week, The New York Times ran this headline: "Antonio Pettigrew, Sprinter Who Doped, Dies at 42." Even a story at, after listing many of Pettigrew's attributes, contained this beaut: "[H]e had a checkered past."

Say what? The man made a mistake. Was it the magnitude of the mistake - played out on an international stage - or the mistake itself that gave him a "checkered past"? If it's the latter, then, pal, we all have one.

That is, of course, what the Rev. J. Jasper Wilkins Jr. meant when he said during the eulogy, "We'll take a single, solitary episode and say that describes a person's life."

The Times did that in Pettigrew's case, but not in two other notable, relatively recent deaths.

When Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts died last year, the paper's headline was "Senate Stalwart Dies." When Sen. Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia died two months ago, the headline referred to him as "Respected Voice of the Senate." In both instances, you had to read through hundreds and hundreds of words to get to two of the darkest periods in those great Americans' lives, Chappaquiddick and the Ku Klux Klan, respectively.

That's as it should have been, because both those men showed an ability to change, grow and outlive their "checkered" pasts.

So did Pettigrew. I'll tell you what. Had that New York Times headline writer been at his funeral and seen the sorrow-bowed young athletes whose lives the former St. Augustine's College sprinter had touched, it's unlikely he'd have so blithely dismissed him as merely the "sprinter who doped." Some of those grieving athletes will, because of their association with Pettigrew, become world-class runners. Even more will become world-class people.

Of equal importance to the mistake Pettigrew made as a track star was his response to it: "He said 'I was 100 percent wrong,'" Wilkins quoted Pettigrew as telling him.

Maj. Gary Blankenship of the Chatham County Sheriff's Department said his office still hadn't determined Monday whether Pettigrew's death was an accident or suicide. "We're awaiting the toxicology report," he said. "That'll tell us more than anything."

In his transcendent poem "To An Athlete Dying Young," A.E. Housman wrote:

The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the marketplace
Man and boy stood cheering by.
And home we brought you shoulder-high.

In the next paragraph, Housman's athlete is once again being borne shoulder-high, not to cheers, but to the grave after his final race has been run. Olympian Antonio Pettigrew was borne shoulder-high back to a cemetery in his hometown, Macon, Ga. Yes, the dude made a mistake, a grievous error in judgment - one that any comprehensive obituary must mention. He should not be defined by that error, though, but rather by how he tried to atone for it.

Nice article - the Senator Edward Kennedy/Robert Byrd analogies make Pettigrew's death all the more poignant. Pettigrew became a very respectable coach and worthwhile member of the local community. One mistake does not define a man; it's how he responds.

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