Is it fair to punish someone for a crime that they
may not have committed? Should an Olympic athlete be punished for taking a drug that does not affect his performance, or give him a disadvantage over his competitors?As many of you may have heard, Ross Rebagliati is the Canadian snowboarder that won the first ever Olympic Gold Medal for snowboarding. After he won, The International Olympic Committee announced his disqualification from the Olympics, and that he was to be stripped of his medal, because they found traces of marijuana in his urine test. Mrs. Bongard and fellow classmates, Under the circumstances, Ross Rebagliati should not have lost his medal.
To start off, marijuana is not a performance-enhancing drug. Many drugs can enhance the performance of an athlete. For example, Steroids increase ones muscle level, making them stronger, faster etc. These drugs are said to give the athlete an unfair advantage over the others. Any ruling based on the use of performance-enhancing drugs is justified, but since marijuana has little or no effect on an athletes performance, and it would not give him an advantage over other athletes, a ruling based on the use of marijuana isnt necessary. In addition to this, many doctors have stated that marijuana gives the athlete a disadvantage over others because it could make that athlete tired, or weak.
Rebagliatis urine test showed trace amounts of marijuana. Doctors say that it is very possible that one could inhale this small amount, strictly from being in the same room as other people who were smoking it. Ross Rebagliati told the press that he had not smoked marijuana since last April, 9 months before the Olympics, and the last time he come in contact with the drug, was at a party about a week before the Olympics, where others were smoking marijuana. This means that the Olympic Committee made its ruling without even knowing if Rebagliati ever smoked marijuana.
The International Olympic Committee does not have any certain specifications for the amount of marijuana that one is allowed to have in his urine. According to their rules, marijuana is perfectly legal. The International Ski Federation, however, lists a threshold of concentration of 15 nanograms per millilitre. In my opinion, the IOC should not make rulings based on the rules of the International Ski Federation, because it is obvious that they do not know how to correctly implement those rules.
One may think that since smoking marijuana is illegal, Ross Rebagliati doesnt deserve to win a medal anyway. Although this is a logical way of thinking, it is impossible for every single law, of each and every country that participates in the Olympics to be enforced by the International Olympic Committee. Perhaps each country should enforce its laws for its own national championships, but not for the Olympics.
After the IOC announced Rebagliatis disqualification, The Canadian team filed an appeal. The appeal panel overturned the International Olympic Committee’s decision because the rules regarding the use of marijuana are fuzzy, and because they realized that the IOCs decision was unfit.
Although Ross Rebagliatis medal was returned to him, this whole incident will still affect him greatly for the rest of his life. For example, many of his sponsors will have second thoughts over whether or not to rehire him. Also, his image in the eye of the public will be greatly affected. I think the IOC should learn a great lesson from this incident:
They should be much more careful before they ever again make an accusation of this nature.