Olympic sprint champion Florence Griffith Joyner died after suffering an epileptic seizure, according to autopsy results released Thursday, and her family and friends say they hope the findings will put to rest rumors that drug use contributed to her death. Griffith Joyner died last month in her sleep at age 38.
Her husband, Al Joyner, bitterly criticized those who suggested that she took performance-enhancing drugs.
“My wife took the final, ultimate drug test,” Joyner said, choking back tears during a brief news conference after the release of the autopsy. “And it’s what we always said: There’s nothing there. So please, please, give us time to grieve and just let my wife rest in peace.”
The Orange County Sheriff-Coroner’s office found that the only drugs in her system when she died were small amounts of the over-the-counter painkiller acetominophen and the antihistamine Benadryl, which is sometimes used as a mild sedative.
Griffith Joyner’s epileptic seizure lasted from minutes to less than hour, said Dr. Richard I. Fukumoto, the county’s chief forensic pathologist. Such seizures rarely lead to death, medical experts noted. In Griffith Joyner’s case, the seizure apparently caused her to be suffocated by her bedding.