Snowboarding’s first Winter Olympics gold medallist Ross Rebagliati has advice for the two top American riders busted for marijuana in Wanaka.
“Keep your chin up and do the best you can to accept the situation and move forward with your life,” Rebagliati tells Mountain Scene.
He should know. Canadian Rebagliati was stripped of his gold at the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics when marijuana was found in his blood system.
The decision was eventually overturned – he claimed the traces were from second-hand smoke, and authorities decided pot wasn’t performance-enhancing anyway – yet most of his sponsors still dropped him.
The pair caught in Wanaka on August 1 probably don’t realise the severity of the consequences, Rebagliati says.
However, it’s not just leading snowboarders being dopes.
“[NBA basketball star] Lebron James just admitted to smoking marijuana in high school. Tons of celebrities have admitted to smoking pot, including US presidents,” he says.
Rebagliati says it’s unfair to hold up athletes as role models 24/7.
“It is a different world now with camera cellphones, zoom-in cameras etc.
“Athletes don’t have any privacy.
“Look at [super swimmer Michael] Phelps. He was at a private party, no kids were there. The press made it out like he was taking a bong hit at Disneyland in front of a tonne of kids.”