WHEN ROSS REBAGLIATI, a Canadian, won the inaugural snowboarding event—the men's giant slalom—at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, the question afterward was not about steroids but another drug: Did he inhale?
This is an article from the July 14, 2008 issue
Rebagliati tested positive for marijuana after his winning run and immediately had his gold medal revoked. He claimed the culprit was secondhand smoke that he'd been exposed to at a party less than a month before the Games. "Honestly, I didn't go to the Olympics with a bag of weed," he says. "I hadn't been smoking for months and months to pass the stupid drug tests. I wasn't into doping, and it wasn't like [marijuana] was performance enhancing."
Rebagliati appealed the ruling, and three days later his medal was reinstated—as it turned out, marijuana wasn't even on the list of banned substances.
Until a year ago Rebagliati, 37, was still training to compete in the 2010 Games in Vancouver, but last July he took a job as the director of snowboarding and skiing for Kelowna Mountain, a new ski resort four hours outside Vancouver. Two years ago he also founded the Rebagliati Alpine Snowboard Training Academy (RASTA), which hosts training camps in Canada, Italy and Austria. "I'm not as young as I was, and I don't mean that in a physical sense, but in a I-better-save-money-for-my-future sense," he jokes.
Rebagliati lives with his wife, Alexandra, and their two dogs in a cottage by a lake in Kelowna. Like many celebrity athletes, he spends time working for charitable causes, snowboarding with sick and disabled children for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and raising money for the Canadian Diabetes Association. He has also begun advocating for environmental conservation, including a plan to build windmills to provide energy at Kelowna. "My message is for everyone to go green," he says. "And I know what you're thinking, but not that kind of green."