Florence Griffith Joyner died in her sleep at home in the Canyon Crest neighborhood of Mission Viejo, California, at the age of 38.
The unexpected death was investigated by the sheriff-coroner’s office, which announced on October 22 that the cause of death was suffocation during a severe epileptic seizure.
She was also found to have had a cavernous hemangioma, a congenital brain abnormality that made Joyner subject to seizures. According to a family attorney, she had suffered a tonic–clonic seizure in 1990, and had also been treated for seizures in 1993 and 1994.
Griffith-Joyner’s supporters claimed that the autopsy cleared her of allegations that she used performance-enhancing drugs. The Orange County coroner’s office noted that the autopsy records showed that she did not die from drugs or banned substances. The coroner had requested that Griffith Joyner’s body specifically be tested for steroids, but was informed that there was not enough urine in her bladder and that the test could not accurately be performed on other biological samples.
After her death in 1998, Prince Alexandre de Merode, the Chairman of the International Olympic Committee’s medical commission, claimed that Joyner was singled out for extra, rigorous drug testing during the 1988 Olympic Games because of rumors of steroid use. De Merode told The New York Times that Manfred Donike, who was at that time considered to be the foremost expert on drugs and sports, failed to discover any banned substances during that testing.
Alexandre de Merode states: “We performed all possible and imaginable analyses on her…We never found anything. There should not be the slightest suspicion [on Florence Griffith Joyner].
Florence Delorez Griffith Joyner, also known as Flo Jo, was a track and field athlete. In 1982, Griffith graduated from UCLA with her bachelor’s degree in psychology.
She is STILL considered the “fastest woman of all time” based on the fact that the world records she set in 1988 for both the 100 meters and 200 meters still stand and have yet to be seriously challenged.
The city of Mission Viejo dedicated a park at the entrance to her neighborhood in her honor.