(CNN)A 70-year-old physician accused of cheating at this year's Los Angeles Marathon has died by suicide, officials said.Dr. Frank Meza had been disqualified from multiple races over the years. Last week, Meza's widow said she didn't believe her husband would have taken his own life. But Meza's family did say he was under enormous stress over his disqualification and the cheating claims made in blog posts and media reports. And they believe he was treated unjustly. "He was targeted, bullied and we tried to defend him the best we could," his daughter Lorena Meza told CNN on Friday. "He was so devastated that people could actually believe this." How the race officials and others say he cheated The controversy started after Meza, a retired South Pasadena physician and a longtime runner, finished the Los Angeles Marathon on March 24.
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The International Association for Suicide Prevention and Befrienders Worldwide also provide contact information for crisis centers around the world.Meza's marathon times had generally been dropping over the past 10 years -- from around 3:30 a decade ago to under three hours by 2014, The Los Angeles Times reported. The disqualifications were confirmed to CNN by Danielle Domenichelli, spokeswoman for the Sacramento Running Association, which organizes the California International Marathon. Meza had told The Times that when race officials approached him about those splits, he gave them no explanation. "I don't run that kind of time," he said, according to The Times. "I actually told them, if you disqualify me, I won't protest. I don't want any doubts to be there." MarathonInvestigation.com said Meza's marathon times had generally been dropping over the past 10 years -- from around 3 hours 30 minutes a decade ago to under three hours by 2014. "I got better because I started running almost twice what I was used to," Meza told The Times. "I just increased my mileage." The website writer and race organizers react to Meza's death On Friday, Murphy posted a statement saying he was "deeply saddened to learn of Frank Meza's death." "My heart goes out to his family and friends, and I wish for everyone to be respectful and to keep his loved ones in mind," Murphy's post said. "There will be a time for comment and a broader discussion, but at this point, I feel that we should all allow those close to Frank the space to grieve." Murphy declined to comment further when contacted by CNN. Conqur, which runs the Los Angeles Marathon, also offered its condolences to Meza's family. "We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Dr. Frank Meza," the company said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family." The physician was a runner first, his widow says Meza's widow, Dr. Faustina Nevarez, told CNN that the night of her husband's death was the first time she'd looked at the online allegations of cheating against him. His family denied that he had cheated.