Acapulco Gold?

Ross Rebagliati Should Have Been Weeded Out.

By Tom Danehy

FURTHER PROOF THE world is going to Hell in a handbasket: Last week, Canadian Ross Rebagliati won the first-ever Olympic gold medal in the snowboarding giant slalom event (I'm having real trouble calling it a sport). The next day the International Olympic Committee took the medal away when it was learned that Rebagliati had tested positive for marijuana. The day after that, they gave it back to him when he appealed and the IOC realized they lacked the legal standing to back up their punitive actions.

Now he's being hailed as a hero. Please explain that me.

Danehy According to Rebagliati, he's been smoking dope for quite a while, but he stopped last April. He did so not for health reasons, not because he was breaking the law, not even so that he could be a better athlete (and maybe a safer driver and dumb stuff like that), but so that he would have enough time to get the telltale signs of his drug use out of his system before the Olympic drug testers got hold of him.

He consulted experts to find out how much time he'd need to get temporarily "clean" and then quit in April. Imagine his surprise when he tested positive after winning the medal.

His explanation? It was second-hand smoke from all his crackhead friends who gave him a going-away party last month and didn't care enough about him or his chance at immortality to stay off the stuff for one night. Plus, he argued (a bit too proudly), the marijuana where he lives in British Columbia (not Colombia) is "four times stronger than it is anywhere else."

After he got the medal taken away, he was questioned by the Japanese authorities. If they had determined that he had smoked marijuana in Japan, he would have been expelled from the country. While he was sweating that ordeal, the Canadian Olympic committee was fighting for him to get his medal back.

They went before an arbitration board and argued there was no written agreement between the IOC and the International Federation du Ski, which governs snowboarding. There's a noble pursuit if ever I heard one, governing a renegade quasi-sport for an organization whose name ends with "dooskie."

The appeals board listened to the Canadians' argument, which consisted of, "Hey, everybody else in our sorry country is either a drunk, a hockey player, of French extraction, or any combination thereof. Somebody who only smokes dope and still has most of his natural teeth is actually pretty high up on our social ladder."

His appeal was granted, again not for any good reason, but because the IOC didn't want to get into a legal quagmire over the fact that they had allowed competition in a sport known for its wild druggie image without first nailing down a drug-testing agreement with the dooskies.

All the IOC had to do was wait until the week before the Olympics and say, "Hey, you don't sign this drug-testing agreement, you don't compete in the Olympics. Simple as that."

Everybody else gets tested and the results stick. Why not them? Just tell the snowboarders they have to be drug-free or say bye-bye to their chances for a gold medal and all those endorsement opportunities for baggy jeans, bad sunglasses, and cheap peroxide.

So, the IOC backs off, the appeals board finds not so much in his favor as against the IOC, and the Japanese police tell him he's not going to get Paul McCartneyed. So what does he do?

He holds a press conference to show off his shiny gold medal and to tell the world that he's sticking with his crackhead friends because "they're real."

What the hell does that mean? They're real what? Real inconsiderate? Real brain-addled? Real glittering strawberry rainbow like, dude.

I hate that. I hated that shit when I was growing up, listening to morons give me stupid lines like, "What? Are you a narc or something? Try it sometime. The music will sound better."

Lately you hear dickheads with lines like, "I don't trust Baby Boomers who never went through a drug phase." Well, that's too bad, you ignorant pre-senile Dead Head. Just because you didn't have any self-control when you were young doesn't mean everybody else had to stumble down that path.

And now you've got a Canadian pothead winning a gold medal in an event, which will forever be shown at 3 a.m. on ESPN 2, bragging about how's he's going to stick with his pothead friends because they're "real."

What message does that send? If my kids are able to be like both of their parents and go through life without drinking, smoking and drugging, will that mean they're not "real?" What do I tell kids that I coach, that they should keep their bodies clean and healthy and strong, but that they won't be real?"

What a load of crap.

Worst of all is that he was then lauded as a role model by Canadian officials and members of the media. That's fine; if a guy makes a mistake, gets caught, apologizes and says he won't do it again, I'll believe him and give him the benefit of the doubt.

But this guy screws up, gets caught, catches a legal-technicality break, then says, "As soon as I get back to Canada, I'm going right back to hanging with my crackhead friends." And everybody says, "Oh, how noble!"

USA Today ran a story with the headline, "Rebagliati shows his class in aftermath of medal flap." Oh, please.

The article's writer, Jill Lieber, fell all over herself looking for positive adjectives, writing, "Dressed in his red and white Canadian Olympic team's leather letter jacket, with short cleancut blond hair and blue eyes, he looked more like a varsity football player than a pot-smoking Dead Head."

Well, Ms. Lieber, I sure hope you can breathe through your mouth because your nose is so far up that dude's butt, if you sneeze, he's going to have the burp of a lifetime.

Rebagliati will be returning to Canada this week. If you listen closely, you'll be able to hear his friends greeting him. "Gold medal? Oh wow, man. Let's go have a burrito."

How real. TW

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