Two snowboarders have been suspended from the Ski Association of Japan over allegations of marijuana use, the StarTribune reported yesterday.
The pair, who as minors have not been identified, apparently used marijuana while they were in Colorado late last year. While recreation use is legal for adults 21 and over, it remains illegal for those underage. No duration was given for the suspension, and if it’s not lifted, the neither would be allowed to compete for places on the country’s Olympic team.
“Much as it is with surfing, marijuana has long been ingrained in snowboarding culture. During the 2008 Olympics—the first featuring snowboarding—Canadian gold medalist Ross Rebagliati ignited controversy after he tested positive for the drug.”
Additionally, Fumikazu Hagiwara, the head of the agency’s snowboarding wing has resigned.
Much as it is with surfing, marijuana has long been ingrained in snowboarding culture. During the 2008 Olympics—the first featuring snowboarding—Canadian gold medalist Ross Rebagliati ignited controversy after he tested positive for the drug, though he was eventually allowed to keep his medal.
That incident actually sparked a change in the way the Olympic Committee treats marijuana. Today, the level of the drug found in Rebagliati’s system would be well within the limits. But as legal marijuana use becomes more widespread, it presents hazards for athletes who wish to compete at a high level.
In competition, marijuana is hardly a performing-enhancing drug, although high athletes high might judgment errors, which raises safety concerns. And given the ever-expanding list of conditions which marijuana has been effective in treating—from menstrual pain to PTSD—whether it could help unfairly speed recovery times is another factor to consider.
Of course, the rules in every country and organization can be different. As far as this pair of Japanese athletes is concerned, it’s likely they violated a “morals clause,” which covers penalties for breaking their home country’s laws.
That said, we hope these snowboarders get reinstated soon.
[ via Star Tribune ]