Gold medalist Ross Rebagliati had his Olympic dreams come true and crushed all in a matter of days. Just days after he was awarded the gold, something showed up in his urine test that made him infamous.
The olympian won the gold medal for snowboarding the first time it was an event in the Olympics. He trained for ten years, six days a week, over three hours a day just for the one winning moment.
He was one of the first olympians to legitimize snowboarding as a sport, but that soon ended.
He claimed to be "honored" to do the urine test because it meant that snowboarding was finally considered olympic worthy.
His story is one that should go down in history. Instead, it was an infamous case of what constitutes as unfair use of substances. What they found may not have been banned...but was it moral?
Rebagliati had a few days to revel in the glory of being an Olympic Gold Medalist. Those moments were short-lived, however.
After many days of celebrating the win, a coach found him and asked everyone else to leave the room. When the coach told him to sit down, it was clear that it wasn't good news.
Rebagliati claims he knew that it was about the drug test because of the timing. What they found wasn't steroids or hard drugs, but he still failed the drug test, and it would cost him the medal.
Tests indicated marijuana was found in his system and the gold medal was going to be taken away from him.
Rebagliati's reaction was shocking, mostly because it wasn't much of a reaction at all. He said that he wasn't surprised.
He said that he stopped smoking marijuana during training. Right before the games, he had been around many people who were smoking but claims that he wasn't smoking it himself.
The Olympics guidelines do not directly state that marijuana is a banned substance. Rebagliati was even honest with his coaches before the games, saying he had been around many people who were smoking.
He was told that it wasn't a problem and that many other athletes had previously won and tested positive for marijuana.
The rules around cannabis use were unclear. The International Ski Federation stated that up to 15 nanograms per millimeter were permissible. Rebagliati was at 17.8 nanograms, putting him just a few nanograms over.
However, the amount shouldn't have mattered because the Olympic regulations do not list it as a banned substance.
The Canadian Olympic Association filed an appeal on behalf of Rebagliati immediately. He had worked too hard to let unclear rules strip him of his accomplishments.
More proof was needed to take away such a huge honor like winning a gold medal. Despite having the medal taken, even bigger challenges awaited Rebagliati in the future.
Because the Olympics were held in Japan, and marijuana is considered a hard drug there, Rebagliati was suddenly taken out of his hotel in handcuffs. He had to spend a night in jail in Nagano, Japan for the failed urine test.
Luckily, the Court of Arbitration ruled for him to be released.
Fortunately, Rebagliati's fellow Canadians were really supportive and welcoming when he returned home. The Prime Minister had his medal re-instated, and he was even featured on the The Tonight Show.
Rebagliati, though happy about his medal, feels that it's a shame his win became a controversy and was overshadowed by something so minor.