Did Steve Prefontaine dope?

Did Steve Prefontaine dope?

In an era of sport muddier than the River Murray, this little gem of a question continues to wink at us through the mists of time.

Steve Prefontaine is an American Icon, a true running legend, whose story has been retold countless times through many media.

He was only ever known as “Pre” and at one point held the American record in the seven distance track events from the 2000 metres to the 10,000 metres.

He was immortalised on May 30, 1975. Returning from a party, Prefontaine was driving on Skyline Boulevard, east of the University of Oregon campus near Hendricks Park when his orange 1973 MGB convertible swerved into a rock wall and flipped.2

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The overturned car trapped Prefontaine underneath it. A nearby resident was first on the scene and reported he found Prefontaine flat on his back, still alive but pinned beneath the wreck.

By the time medics arrived, he was pronounced dead. It had been reported that his blood alcohol concentration was 0.16 by the Eugene Police Department2, however the accuracy of reported value is disputed by some over testing procedures3

Prefontaine is buried at Sunset Memorial Park in his hometown, Coos Bay.

The Eugene Register-Guard called his death "the end of an era". By the time of his death, Prefontaine was probably the most popular athlete in Oregon, who, along with Frank Shorter and Bill Bowerman, was credited with sparking the running boom of the 1970s.4,5 An annual track event, the Pre Classic, has been held in his honour since 1975.


Simon Bartold
Director of Bartold Clinical