Ross Rebagliati: The Face of Olympic Cannabis

At the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, professional snowboarder Ross Rebagliati of Canada won the first Olympic Gold Medal in the snowboarding giant slalom. Prior to this, snowboarding hadn’t been a part of the Olympics in any capacity. Rebagliati said he “realized his sport was getting important because drug testing had been introduced.”

Unfortunately for Rebagliati, he tested positive for tetrahydrocannabinol (more commonly known as THC) which is the psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis. Upon discovering that he had tested positive, Rebagliati was immediately disqualified and a committee met to decide if he would be stripped of his Gold Medal.

Initially, the International Olympic Committee voted to strip Rebagliati of his medal. Rebagliati decided to appeal the decision and was given back the Gold Medal because THC was not explicitly listed on the Olympics’ banned substances list. Following this incident the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) placed THC on the list of banned substances, with a threshold for a positive test being 15 nanograms per milliliter. Rebagliati’s test from the 1998 Winter Olympics was recorded at 17.8 ng/ml, only 2.8 ng/ml above the threshold. Ross insisted that his positive test was a result of secondhand smoke and that he had not consumed cannabis since April 1997. In 2013, WADA changed the threshold for a positive THC test from 15 ng/ml to 150 ng/ml. This was done in an attempt to prevent Olympic athletes from using cannabis during competition, while still allowing them to use cannabis during their training if they so desire. In order to test at 150 ng/ml or above, an individual would have to be a fairly frequent cannabis user.

Ross Rebagliati went on to found his own cannabis company in Canada called Ross’ Gold, which launched in January 2013. (Interestingly enough, this was pretty close to the time when WADA changed the threshold for a positive THC test.) Ross’ Gold plans to sell cannabis in Canada and the USA by licensing its established brand through partnerships for medical cannabis strains called Ross’ Platinum, Ross’ Gold, Ross’ Silver and Ross’ Bronze with specific THC/CBD levels for specific ailments. The company also offers glass, apparel, hemp CBD cartridges and vape pens, grinders, e-nails and THC vape pens.

Since his positive test in 1998, Rebagliati has been an advocate for medical cannabis and maintains that it helps him deal with the aches and pains he experiences from years of falls on the slopes. When Michael Phelps was being slammed in the media for his cannabis use, Rebagliati came to his defense saying, “Hey, it’s zero calories, zero fat!’” Due to his history with cannabis, Rebagliati is frequently asked about what benefits cannabis could possibly have for athletes. His answer? “Cannabis is the best jet lag cure, it makes for quick recovery from frequent long haul travel with different time zones. It keeps appetite healthy for maximum fuel intake to sustain high output over the season. Often appetite is lost due to jet lag and the different eating and sleeping cycles. CBD is potentially one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory substances we know of. It’s perfect for after workouts, post injury, post operation and general aches and pains from long term athletics, training, competing, or simply living life to its fullest. CBD is also an incredible for anti-stress and anti-anxiety. Cannabis is excellent for getting quality sleep, which in turn has several key benefits: Mental strength and muscle growth/recovery to name just a few, these are all key elements for any athlete. Cannabis is fat free, has zero calories, gets you to bed early and up early in the morning feeling fresh and ready to go. No alcohol hangover! It doesn’t impair your judgment like other substances, and it does not impair your physical ability. It is the safest drug known in that there has never been a death ever associated to it. Early indication shows it could reduce some brain injuries due to concussions. It’s a responsible alternative to alcohol/tobacco use and is not physically addictive.”

SOURCES:
Olympic snowboarding champion Ross Rebagliati touts pot as performance enhancing drug
Wikipedia: Ross Rebagliati
Rules change on Olympic marijuana testing
Ross’ Gold
THE XVIII WINTER GAMES THE XVIII WINTER GAMES; Snowboarder Stripped of Gold for Failing Drug Test
IOC Strips Gold From Canadian After Drug Test
How A Stoned Canadian Changed Sports History

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